chester springs couple Charged in tax refund scam involving stolen hospital patient information
PHILADELPHIA - Rafael Henriquez Polanco, 30, and his wife, Yanira Lopez, 27, are charged by information, filed today, with a tax fraud and identity theft scheme in which they sought more than $1.7 million in fraudulent tax refunds, announced United States Attorney Zane David Memeger. Defendant Polanco is separately charged by indictment with possession with intent to distribute 500 grams or more of cocaine, and possession with intent to distribute 28 grams or more of cocaine base (“crack”). Defendant Polanco is an illegal alien from the Dominican Republic, and, prior to his arrest in 2012, he and his wife resided together in Chester Springs, Pennsylvania.
According to the Information, between January 2008 and September 2011, defendants Polanco and Lopez obtained the names, dates of birth, and social security numbers of patients of Community Hospital in Chester, Pennsylvania and Crozer-Chester Medical Center in Upland, Pennsylvania, by paying employees of the hospitals to steal confidential medical forms. Defendants Polanco and Lopez then utilized the stolen identities to file fraudulent individual income tax returns with the IRS claiming fraudulent refunds. In support of the false returns, the defendants allegedly submitted phony Forms W-2 (Wage and Tax Statement) and listed one of several return addresses in Chester, Pennsylvania, or Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, which addresses the defendants controlled. The defendants utilized some of those homes to grow marijuana. The Information further alleges that Polanco and Lopez opened several bank accounts, and paid others to open bank accounts, using false identities for the purpose of depositing the fraudulently procured tax refund checks. Lopez, a former bank teller, utilized her knowledge of bank procedures to further this aspect of the scheme. It is alleged that between February 23, 2009 and September 16, 2011, the defendants caused the United States Department of the Treasury to issue federal tax refund checks totaling $257,710.79.
It is further alleged that between October 26, 2008 and May 18, 2010, defendant Lopez
devised a scheme to fraudulently obtain unemployment benefits from the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. In furtherance of this scheme, Lopez represented to the Commonwealth that she was unemployed, when in fact she was employed full-time at Brandywine Maintenance, Inc., in Spring City, Pennsylvania, where she worked under the alias “Leslie Serrano.”
The defendants are each charged with conspiracy to defraud the government, aggravated identity theft, passport fraud, and presentation of an immigration application containing a false statement. Lopez is additionally charged with wire fraud.
If convicted, defendant Polanco faces 32 years’ imprisonment, including a mandatory two year term of imprisonment, three years supervised release, a $1,000,000 fine, a $400 special assessment, and full restitution. If convicted, defendant Lopez faces 52 years’ imprisonment, including a mandatory two year term of imprisonment, three years supervised release, a $1,250,000 fine, a $500 special assessment, and full restitution. Forfeiture of all proceeds and all property involved in defendant Lopez’s wire fraud offense also may be ordered.
The case was investigated by the U.S. Department of State Diplomatic Security Service, the Department of Labor, the Internal Revenue Service – Criminal Investigations, and Immigration and Customs Enforcement Homeland Security Investigations. It is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Kevin Brenner and Maureen McCartney.
UNITED STATES ATTORNEY'S OFFICE, EASTERN DISTRICTof PENNSYLVANIA
Suite 1250, 615 Chestnut Street, Philadelphia, PA 19106
PATTY HARTMAN, Media Contact, 215-861-8525