Honduran National Sentenced For Conspiring To File False Tax Refund Claims And Aggravated Identity Theft
RALEIGH – United States Attorney Thomas G. Walker announced that today in federal court, United States District Judge Terrence W. Boyle sentenced SALVADOR SERRANO PORTILLO , 45, a non-resident Honduran national, most recently of Clinton, NC, to 51 months imprisonment, followed by three years of supervised release. PORTILLO was also ordered to pay $156,107 in restitution.
PORTILLO was named in a Criminal Information filed on August 26, 2013, charging him with conspiring to defraud the United States through the filing of fraudulent federal tax refund claims, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 286, and aggravated identity theft, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 1028A. On October 4, 2013, PORTILLO pled guilty to the charges.
According to the investigation, PORTILLO illegally entered the United States from Honduras in 2001 and settled in the Clinton, NC area. Shortly after his arrival, PORTILLO purchased stolen identifying papers, including a Social Security card and a birth certificate, for an individual PORTILLO knew to be an actual person residing in North Carolina at the time. PORTILLO assumed this individual’s identity to, among other things, obtain employment and health insurance, open bank accounts, and make international wire transfers.
Between 2011 and 2013, the investigation further revealed that PORTILLO and others conspired to file false federal income tax returns by exploiting the Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN) program administered by the Internal Revenue Service. An ITIN is a nine-digit number that enables resident and nonresident alien taxpayers who are ineligible for a Social Security number to file federal income tax returns. As part of the conspiracy, PORTILLO and others used fraudulent identifying papers, such as Honduran passports, birth certificates, and school records, to apply for and obtain ITINs for individuals who did not reside or work in the United States. The false ITIN information was used, in turn, to file federal income tax returns reporting bogus tax refund claims.
Investigation of this case was conducted by the Internal Revenue Service-Criminal Investigation. The case was prosecuted by former Assistant United States Attorney Gaston B. Williams and Assistant United States Attorney Adam F. Hulbig.