ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – Rick Benavidez, 47, of Albuquerque, is heading to prison for five years and three months after pleading guilty on April 29 to two counts of bank fraud, one count of conspiracy to commit bank fraud, and one count of making fraudulent returns, statements, or other documents. Benavidez led and organized two auto loan fraud schemes involving a total intended loss of more than $1.5 million.

According to the plea agreement, Benavidez admitted to working with his co-defendant, 41-year-old Damian Maron, to scheme federally-insured credit unions in Bernalillo County. The two had other conspirators apply for loans totaling $359,662.97.

The agreement states Benavidez would submit false pay stubs to loan applicants, overstating their income to help guarantee a loan approval. Benavidez and his conspirators had the lenders disperse the money to a fake auto dealership. The proceeds would then be divided among everyone involved in the scam.

Benavidez was also involved in a separate auto loan scam with an intended loss of $1,154,493.42, the majority of which had already been dispersed. He has agreed to make restitution to the victims in an amount that has not been decided yet. Benavidez will have to complete five years of supervised release when he gets out of prison.

Benavidez also admitted in his plea agreement to sending a false document to the IRS while his auto loan fraud case was pending that claimed U.S. District Court Judge William P. Johnson was his legal fiduciary.

Damian Maron has also pleaded guilty to one count of bank fraud and one count of conspiracy to commit bank fraud. He is scheduled for sentencing on September 2.