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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Western District of Michigan

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Friday, June 20, 2014

Guilty Plea In $2.9 Million Stolen Identity Tax Scam

 

Grand Rapids businessman admits forging endorsements on $750,000 of US Treasury Checks

           GRAND RAPIDS, MICHIGAN – Mateo Velasquez-Garcia, of Grand Rapids, Michigan, pled guilty to one count of Forgery of U.S. Treasury Checks and one count of Illegal Re-entry by an Alien, U.S. Attorney Patrick A. Miles, Jr. announced today. Velasquez-Garcia operated a grocery store located at 1814 S. Division Avenue, Grand Rapids, Michigan. An investigation revealed that $2.9 million dollars’ worth of fraudulently obtained federal tax refund checks were deposited into the bank account for the Tienda La Nueva Esperanza grocery store during the years 2011 to 2012. Velasquez-Garcia admitted to federal agents that he personally placed false endorsements on the back of 115 of the United States Treasury checks, which were payable to third parties. U.S. Attorney Miles was joined in the announcement by Acting Special Agent in Charge Carolyn Weber, Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigation and Special Agent in Charge Marlon V. Miller of Homeland Security.

          Velasquez-Garcia is also an alien. He was previously removed from the U.S. and has been found to be in the U.S. without the proper consent of the Attorney General or the Secretary of Homeland Security.

          The maximum penalty for forging U.S. Treasury checks is imprisonment of not more than ten years and a $250,000 fine. The maximum penalty for illegal re-entry by an alien is not more than two years and a $250,000 fine.

          The investigation of this case was conducted by Special Agents of the Homeland Security Investigation and IRS Criminal Investigation.

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Updated April 14, 2015