Bronx Man Sentenced for Role in Conspiracy Involving Fraudulent U.S. Income Tax Returns Requesting Tax Refunds Stolen from Mail
Tampa, Florida - U.S. Attorney Robert E. O'Neill announces that U.S. District Judge James D. Whittemore sentenced Grievy Nehemias Sanchez-Villar (25, Bronx, New York) to 18 months in federal prison yesterday for conspiracy to commit theft or receipt of stolen mail matter. Sanchez-Villar pleaded guilty to the offense on February 2, 2012.
According to court documents, Sanchez-Villar participated in a conspiracy with Carmelo Rosado, Jr., Yudheiris Janga, and Victor Manuel Pena to file fraudulent federal Individual Income Tax Returns. Through the fraudulent tax returns, the conspirators requested tax refunds in the form of U.S. Treasury checks, to be mailed to addresses throughout the United States, including the Middle District of Florida. The conspiracy also involved stealing and taking possession of the U.S. Treasury tax refund checks so that they could be negotiated for the benefit of the conspirators and others.
Through identity theft, fraudulent federal income tax returns, in the names of individuals who are residents of Puerto Rico, were filed with the Internal Revenue Service. (The names and Social Security Numbers of residents of Puerto Rico were illegally used because Puerto Rico residents typically are not required to file federal income tax returns with the IRS. A resident of Puerto Rico is not required to file a federal income tax return so long as all of the Puerto Rico resident's income was derived from Puerto Rican sources.) All of the fraudulent returns requested income tax refunds. Among the fraudulent returns were approximately sixty-eight (68) returns that requested a total of $509,017 in tax refunds. These returns were filed electronically and accepted by the IRS. The income tax refunds were scheduled to be paid and delivered, via the U.S. mail, to various apartments in the Chapel Trace Apartment Complex, located at 412 and 424 Chapel Trace Drive in Orlando.
Janga identified and recruited Rosado, who was then employed as a U.S. Postal Service letter carrier, to intercept, steal and take possession of U.S. Treasury checks for the tax refunds mailed to the Chapel Trace Apartment Complex. Rosado was to deliver the intercepted checks to Janga in exchange for payment for his part in the scheme. On March 7, 2011, Rosado stole 68 U.S. Treasury checks representing income tax refunds from the U.S. mail. The next day, Rosado delivered the stolen checks to Janga. Janga was to pass the stolen checks onto another conspirator in exchange for payment.
On April 4, 2011, Pena and Sanchez-Villar drove from New York to the Chapel Trace Apartment Complex and, at the direction of their recruiter, made efforts to obtain the stolen U.S. Treasury checks from Janga. The next day, Pena took possession of the stolen U.S. Treasury checks from Janga, concealed them on his person, and gave them to the conspirator who had recruited him into the scheme. On the same date, Sanchez-Villar gave Janga $9,000 in cash as at least partial compensation for her participation and the participation of Rosado.
As a part of the investigation, the true income tax refund checks were replaced with "decoy" checks, so that the $509,017 in federal funds represented by the true refund checks would not be lost.
In related cases, Yudheris Janga (33, Orlando) pled guilty to conspiracy to commit theft or receipt of stolen mail matter. She fled following her plea and is currently considered a fugitive. Victor Manuel Pena (42, Bronx, New York) was sentenced on December 13, 2011 to 18 months in federal prison for his role in the conspiracy to commit theft or receipt of stolen mail matter. On March 13, 2012, Carmelo Rosado, Jr. (40, Riverview, formerly from Orlando) was sentenced to 37 months in federal prison for his role in the conspiracy to commit theft or receipt of stolen mail matter as well as for bribery of a public official.
This case and the related cases were investigated by the Internal Revenue Service-Criminal Investigation, Federal Bureau of Investigation, U.S. Postal Service Office of Inspector General, and the U.S. Postal Inspection Service. The cases are being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Rachelle DesVaux Bedke and Josephine Thomas.
These prosecutions arise out of a coordinated effort among various United States Attorney's Offices to combat the scheme to use stolen Puerto Rican identities to file fraudulent federal tax refund claims. These offices included the United States Attorney's Office for the Middle District of Florida, Eastern District of Pennsylvania, Middle District of Pennsylvania, Southern District of New York, District of Connecticut, and the District of Massachusetts and investigative agencies working with each United States Attorney's Office. Investigation and enforcement actions in each of these Districts resulted in arrests as part of the multi-district effort.