Broward Resident Sentenced to 94 Months in Prison in Treasury Check Cashing and Stolen Identity Scheme
Wifredo A. Ferrer, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Florida, José A. Gonzalez, Special Agent in Charge, Internal Revenue Service, Criminal Investigation (IRS-CI), Paula Reid, Special Agent in Charge, U.S. Secret Service, and George L. Piro, Special Agent in Charge, Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Miami Field Office, announce that Ronald Walker, 36, of Fort Lauderdale, was sentenced before U.S. District Judge James I. Cohn for his participation in a check cashing and stolen identity scheme. Walker was sentenced to 94 months in prison, to be followed by three years of supervised release. Ronald Walker was also ordered to pay restitution of $1,094,185.20 to the IRS.
Ronald Walker previously pled guilty in two cases. In one case, he pled guilty to one count of theft of public money, a United States income tax refund check, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 641, and one count of aggravated identity theft, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 1028A(a)(1). In the second case, he pled guilty to conspiracy to steal, receive, and retain money and things of value of the United States and to forge endorsements on and cash treasury checks, receipt and retention of things of value of the United States, and aggravated identity theft.
According to court documents, a confidential informant (CI) told federal agents that Walker routinely received stolen or fraudulently obtained U.S. Treasury checks and negotiated them at a check cashing store called American Quick Cash (AQC) located in Broward County, which was owned by Wilson and Kate Lau. The CI also stated that Walker forged the payees’ endorsements on the back of the checks and provided Wilson Lau with the payees’ social security numbers and copies of altered Florida driver’s licenses.
During an undercover operation, Walker was given three treasury tax refund checks that resulted from fraudulent tax returns being filed in the names and social security numbers of real people. Ronald Walker was also provided with driver’s license numbers, social security numbers, and dates of birth for all of the payees on the checks. Ronald Walker went to AQC, and then gave the CI and/or undercover agent their portion of the cashed checks. After clearing the banking system, the checks that were created for this investigation included endorsements on the back, but the payees were fictitious and could not have endorsed the checks.
From February 2010 through May 2011, the total amount of U.S. Treasury checks cashed by Walker at AQC is approximately $1,234,114. The number of victims involved is greater than 50, but fewer than 250.
In a separate investigation, Walker and co-defendants, Aaron Taylor, 30, Lauderhill, James Burch, 36, Coral Springs, and Regina James, 39, Ft. Lauderdale, sold $75,108.79 in fraudulently obtained tax refund checks and 609 people’s identifying information.
On July 20, 2012, Wilson Lau, 75, and his wife, Kate Yuee Lau, 54, formerly of Coral Springs, were sentenced before U.S. District Judge Robert Scola. Wilson Lau was sentenced to 84 months in prison, to be followed by three years of supervised release. Kate Yuee Lau was sentenced to 24 months in prison, to be followed by three years of supervised release.
On May 16, 2014, Taylor was sentenced to 54 months in prison and Burch was sentenced to 36 months in prison. Aaron Taylor and Burch assisted Walker to sell the fraudulent tax refund checks and identifying information. Sentencing for James is scheduled for June 6, 2014 at 4:00 p.m. before U.S. District Judge Kenneth A. Marra.
Mr. Ferrer commended the investigative efforts of IRS-CI, the Secret Service, and the FBI. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Alicia E. Shick and Marc Osborne.
A copy of this press release may be found on the website of the United States Attorney's Office for the Southern District of Florida at http://www.usdoj.gov/usao/fls. Related court documents and information may be found on the website of the District Court for the Southern District of Florida at http://www.flsd.uscourts.gov or on http://pacer.flsd.uscourts.gov.