FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
February 15, 2011
NEWARK, N.J. – A Passaic County, N.J., tax preparer was arrested today for his role in defrauding a national bank of more than $300,000 in connection with a fraudulently obtained mortgage and with aggravated identity theft, U.S. Attorney Paul J. Fishman announced.
Luccio Chavez, 66, of Clifton, N.J., was arrested this morning at his business by special agents of the U.S. Secret Service. He is scheduled to make an initial appearance today before U.S. Magistrate Judge Patty Shwartz in Newark federal court.
According to the documents filed in this case and statements made in court:
Chavez was the owner of Chavez Financial Services (“Chavez Financial”), a tax preparation business located at 217 Broadway, Paterson, N.J. Around November 2007, Chavez approached “F.C.,” a customer of Chavez Financial, and offered to pay F.C. $5,000 to pose as a “straw buyer” of Chavez’s home in Clifton. F.C. accepted Chavez’s proposal. Chavez then completed a number of false loan documents purportedly on F.C.’s behalf, including a loan application which contained bank account information belonging to “D.B.P.,” an identity theft victim.
On Nov. 27, 2007, a bank representative conducted a telephonic employment verification for F.C., and called the number provided on the loan application for a company called “Smart Copy.” Unbeknownst to the bank representative, the number provided was not that of F.C.’s employer or Smart Copy, but rather the main number for Chavez Financial. The bank representative spoke to Chavez, who falsely confirmed that F.C. worked for him at Smart Copy for approximately two and a half years, and was presently employed there.
The victim bank ultimately approved F.C.’s mortgage application and on Dec. 5, 2007, funded a mortgage loan of approximately $316,800 to facilitate F.C.’s purported purchase of Chavez’s home. Chavez used $234,087 of F.C.’s loan amount to pay off his existing mortgage, and retained $114,473 for his personal benefit. Despite purportedly purchasing Chavez’s home, F.C. never moved into the home or made any mortgage payments on the home. Instead, Chavez continues to live there.
On the bank fraud charge, Chavez faces a maximum potential penalty of 10 years in prison and $1 million fine. On the aggravated identity theft charge, Chavez faces a mandatory sentence of two years to be served consecutively to the sentence imposed on the other count.
Fishman credited the special agents of the Secret Service, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Jacob F. Christine, with the investigation leading to the criminal Complaint.
The Government is represented by Assistant United States Attorney Gurbir S. Grewal of the Economic Crimes Unit in Newark.
The charge and allegations contained in the Complaint are merely accusations, and the defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.
Defense counsel: TBA