U.S. Department of Justice
Peter F. Neronha
United States Attorney
District of Rhode Island
November 15, 2013
Two Arrested, Make Initial Appearance in Federal Court on Charges of Aggravated Identity Theft, Forging Endorsements on U.S. Government Checks, Money Laundering
PROVIDENCE, R.I. – Juliana Martins, 44, and Jairo Morales, 28, of Providence, R.I., were arrested by federal agents and made initial appearances today in U.S. District Court in Providence on charges of aggravated identity theft, theft of government property, forging endorsements on treasury checks and money laundering. The defendants were arrested by agents from Homeland Security Investigations, assisted by agents from the U.S. Secret Service and Internal Revenue Service Office of Investigation, as the result of an ongoing investigation into an alleged scheme to obtain federal tax checks with the use of stolen personal identifying information of others.
The arrests were announced by United States Attorney Peter F. Neronha; Bruce M. Foucart, Special Agent in Charge of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations; Steven D. Ricciardi, Special Agent in Charge of the Boston Field Office of the U.S. Secret Service; and John Collins, Acting Special Agent in Charge of the Boston Field Office of Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigation.
According to information presented to the court, the defendants are alleged to have participated in a scheme to steal the identity of approximately forty individuals, nearly all of whom appear to live in Puerto Rico, including their names, social security numbers and dates of birth. It is alleged that they used the information to fraudulently obtain federal tax checks totaling more than $277,300. The investigation revealed that the checks were allegedly deposited into various bank accounts and then cash withdrawn in an attempt to conceal the scheme.
According to information presented to the court, the investigation began in January 2013, based on information developed by Customs and Border Protection officers at Logan International Airport in Boston during a routine inspection of a laptop computer belonging to Morales as he passed through customs during a return trip to the United States from the Dominican Republic.
A criminal complaint is merely an allegation and is not evidence of guilt. A defendant is entitled to a fair trial in which it will be the government’s burden to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.
Martins and Morales were released on unsecured bond following their initial appearance before U.S. District Court Magistrate Judge Patricia A. Sullivan.
Theft of government property and forging endorsements on treasury checks are each punishable by statutory penalties of up to ten years in federal prison and a fine of up to $250,000. Money laundering is punishable by a statutory penalty of up to twenty years in federal prison and a fine of up to $500,000. Aggravated identity theft is punishable by a statutory penalty of a mandatory minimum sentence of two years in federal prison, to be served consecutive to any other sentence imposed
The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Sandra R. Hebert and John P. McAdams.
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