BOSTON – A Marlboro man was sentenced today for charges stemming from his scheme to defraud various airlines.
Pedro Igor Duarte, 28, was sentenced to two years in prison, three years of supervised release, and was ordered to pay $28,210 in restitution. In September 2013, Duarte pleaded guilty to three counts of mail fraud.
Beginning October 2007 and continuing through April 2009, Duarte flew on various airlines, including Continental Airlines, American Airlines, and Air Tran Airways (now Southwest Airlines), for the purpose of submitting and obtaining payment on lost baggage claims, when in fact he had not lost any baggage on those flights.
Prior to a flight Duarte checked his baggage with the airline. Upon arrival, he picked up his checked baggage, but then submitted a lost baggage claim form, falsely stating that the airline had lost his baggage. Duarte would slightly alter the spelling of his name on the baggage claim form so that the airline would not know that the same person was filing numerous lost baggage claims. He also would provide a Massachusetts address or, alternatively, an address outside of Massachusetts, but would later contact the airline and change his address to a Massachusetts location. In support of his lost baggage claim, Duarte would provide the airline with receipts purporting to document the value of his lost baggage. Upon receipt of that information, the airline would mail him a check to compensate for the value of his purportedly lost baggage.
In September 2013, Duarte pleaded guilty to the offenses. Subsequently, the government learned that on April 24, 2013, after Duarte was indicted and while on his pretrial release, he flew from Boston to Palm Beach, Fla., under a false identity and without first obtaining authorization of the Court to do so, thus violating conditions of his pretrial release. On April 26, 2013, Duarte opened a mailbox and a Citibank account in Florida, using a fraudulent Brazilian passport and driver’s license before flying back to Boston the following day. The Citibank account opened in Florida was used to facilitate the purchase and negotiation of fraudulent U.S. Postal money orders, some of which were fraudulent money orders that were ultimately deposited into Duarte’s wife’s bank account. In November 2013, Duarte made false statements to federal agents by denying that he had opened the mailbox and Citibank accounts in Florida under the false identity. Duarte acknowledged depositing some of the money orders in question into his wife’s bank account but denied facilitating fraud.
The sentencing hearing was initially scheduled for Jan. 17, 2014. Duarte appeared in the courthouse, but then absconded before the sentencing hearing commenced. A bench warrant issued and Duarte turned himself into the custody of the U.S. Marshals Service on Feb. 24, 2014.
United States Attorney Carmen M. Ortiz; Vincent B. Lisi, Special Agent in Charge of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Boston Field Division; Anthony DiPaolo, Chief of Investigations of the Massachusetts Insurance Fraud Bureau; and Shelly Binkowski, Inspector in Charge of the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, investigated the matter and made the announcement today. The case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Maxim Grinberg.