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Woman avoids incarceration Neal Putnam | Sat, Feb 08 2014 12:00 PM

A woman who helped a National City clinical psychologist falsify medical certifications of some patients was ordered Jan. 27 to pay $4,015 in restitution to the government for Social Security fraud.

No jail time was given to Nawal Talia, 57, who pleaded guilty to making false statements in applications for Social Security disability benefits for patients of Dr. Roberto Jose Velasquez, now 57, who is serving 21 months in federal prison.

Talia, of Spring Valley, recruited patients for Velasquez who had an office in National City and lived in Chula Vista. U.S. Attorney Laura Duffy said Velasquez’s restitution order of $1.5 million was the largest such order in Social Security’s history.

Talia worked as a paid advocate for immigrants seeking assistance in obtaining citizenship or Social Security benefits.

She submitted documents to federal agencies on behalf of clients and certified some as mentally disabled when they were not. She and the doctor worked to falsify medical certifications and fabricate patient histories, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

Velasquez was sentenced April 17, 2013, and is housed at a medium security prison in Mendota in Fresno County.

Velasquez will be paroled on Dec. 27, according to federal authorities.

Velasquez pleaded guilty to making false statements in Social Security disability benefits and immigration documents.

He also admitted he made up imaginary patients with a fabricated psychiatric history.

Talia also pleaded guilty to making false statements in immigration documents. She could have faced 10 years in federal prison, but her attorney noted the physician received much less himself. Talia was placed on five years probation by U.S. District Court Judge Marilyn Huff.

The fraud was investigated by several federal agencies including the Department of Homeland Security in an undercover operation.

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