News and Press Releases

Miami Man Pleads Guilty to Identity Theft and Tax Refund Fraud Charges

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Augusst 21, 2014

RICHMOND, Va. – Junior Jean Merilia, 33, of Miami, Florida, pleaded guilty today to conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud and aggravated identity theft.
Dana J. Boente, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia; and Thomas J. Kelly, Special Agent in Charge of Internal Revenue Service, Washington Field Office, made the announcement after the plea was accepted by U.S. District Judge Henry E. Hudson.

Merilia was indicted on June 4, 2014 by a federal grand jury on a single count of conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud.  He faces a maximum penalty of twenty-two years in prison when he is sentenced on November 21, 2014.

According to the statement of facts in support of the plea and other court documents, Merilia is a co-conspirator of Ramoth Jean, who has already been prosecuted in connection with this matter.  Jean was stopped by Henrico County Police in August 2012 as he removed items from a storage unit that had been rented in the name of a Florida resident without that person’s knowledge or authorization.   A search of the unit yielded hundreds of cards bearing the personal identifying information of persons around the United States, pre-paid debit cards, and laptop computers used in this scheme.  The pre-paid debit cards were issued in connection with tax refunds from tax returns filed on-line using stolen personal identifying information.  Many of those returns were filed from hotels in the Richmond area. 

Papers linked with Merilia were found in the storage unit.  Merilia acknowledged in the statement of facts that he hired a website designer who created websites through which personal identifying information was stolen, via sham employment postings, for use in connection with the scheme.   In addition, Merilia made ATM withdrawals in the Miami area using debit cards connected with some fraudulently filed tax returns.

On January 9, 2014, Judge Hudson sentenced Ramoth Jean to a 114 month term of incarceration following his guilty pleas to conspiracy and aggravated identity theft charges.  

This case was investigated by the Internal Revenue Service—Criminal Investigations, the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, Social Security Administration—Office of Inspector General, and the Henrico County Police Department as members of the Metro-Richmond Identity Theft Task Force.  Prosecutions for the Task Force are handled by the United States Attorney’s Office and the Office of the Attorney General for the Commonwealth of Virginia.  Assistant U.S. Attorney Michael C. Moore is prosecuting the case.

A copy of this press release may be found on the website of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Virginia.  Related court documents and information may be found on the website of the District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia or on PACER by searching for Case No. 3:14-cr-73.

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