BOSTON - A Lawrence man pleaded guilty today to theft of more than $230,000 in U.S. Treasury tax refunds.
Wilson Santana, 40, pleaded guilty to 34 counts of theft of public money. He was indicted in January of 2013 and is scheduled to be sentenced by U.S. District Judge George A. O’Toole on Sept. 4, 2014.
Between November 2011 and March 2012, Santana provided Robert Montero, a bank teller at Metro Credit Union in Lawrence, with 30 U.S. Treasury checks containing fraudulently obtained tax refunds to be negotiated through various bank accounts controlled by or associated with Santana. The U.S. Department of Treasury had issued the checks based on tax returns that later were determined to contain false information. For example, although the tax returns contained biographical information of real people in Puerto Rico, their addresses were falsely listed in New York and Massachusetts. The tax returns also contained false employment information. Santana, knowing that the tax return checks had been issued based on false information, negotiated them with Montero’s help at Metro West Credit Union in return for a fee. The 30 tax refund U.S. Treasury checks were worth $211,214.
Between March and April 2012, Santana sold four more U.S. Treasury checks containing fraudulently obtained tax refunds to Montero. Unbeknownst to Santana, those transactions were monitored by federal agents. The four U.S. Treasury checks contained $26,227 in tax refunds. In total, Santana stole or attempted to steal $237,227 of fraudulently obtained tax refunds. Montero pleaded guilty to theft of public money last September.
The maximum sentence under the statute is 10 years in prison, three years of supervised release and a $250,000 fine.
United States Attorney Carmen M. Ortiz; William P. Offord, Special Agent in Charge of the Internal Revenue Service’s Criminal Investigation in Boston; and Stephen Marks, Acting Special Agent in Charge of the U.S. Secret Service, made the announcement today. The case is being prosecuted by Maxim Grinberg of Ortiz’s Health Care Fraud Unit.