Lantigua pleads guilty to ID theft, passport fraud

Jose Lantigua
Jose Lantigua

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – A man who police say faked his death to collect millions of dollars in insurance money pleaded guilty Thursday to federal identity theft and passport fraud charges.

Jose Lantigua, the former owner of the Circle K furniture stores in Jacksonville, faked his death in South America in 2013 so that his wife could collect over $5 million, according to investigators.

Lantigua could face up to 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine on the passport fraud and two years in prison and a $250,000 fine on the ID theft charge. No date has been set for sentencing.

READ: Lantigua's acceptance of plea

Lantigua was arrested at his wife's home in North Carolina earlier this year after insurance investigators cracked the case by talking with a doctor in Venezuela who admitted signing a fake death certificate.

The house where Lantigua was caught was being built with money from his wife's insurance settlement. 

Investigators said Lantigua falsified his name on a passport so he could enter the country, but he made a mistake and listed his wife's home in North Carolina on the application.

Federal investigators staked it out and took Lantigua into custody. 

Lantigua's wife is still being held in the Duval County jail on state insurance fraud charges. An arrest warrant was issued for Lantiqua for faking his death, but those charges have not been filed. Legal experts said the charges are coming.