Justice News

Department of Justice
Office of Public Affairs

Friday, September 14, 2018

Foreign National Pleads Guilty to Theft of Government Property, Identity Theft, Money Laundering

A citizen of the Dominican Republic and former resident of New York pleaded guilty yesterday to theft of government property, aggravated identity theft, money laundering, conspiracy to commit money laundering, fraudulent use of a social security number, and failure to appear as ordered, all in connection with his involvement in a stolen identity tax refund fraud scheme, announced Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Richard E. Zuckerman of the Justice Department’s Tax Division and U.S. Attorney Lelling for the District of Massachusetts.

According to court documents, in 2012, Hector Antonio Cruz-Mercedes, attempted to negotiate ten U.S. Treasury income tax refund checks totaling $75,808 generated from false tax returns filed in the names of stolen identities of Puerto Rican residents.  Cruz-Mercedes also conspired to lauder the proceeds of the scheme by texting bank account deposit information to others involved in the scheme.  Cruz-Mercedes was indicted in February 2014 and arrested in the Dominican Republic in January 2017, and later extradited to the United States.

Cruz-Mercedes’s sentencing is scheduled for Jan 8, 2019.  He faces a statutory maximum sentence of ten years in prison for the theft of government property, a maximum of twenty years in prison for the money laundering conviction, a two year mandatory minimum prison term on the aggravated identity theft charge, five years in prison for the fraudulent use of a social security number, and five years for the failure to appear as ordered.  He also faces a period of supervised release, restitution and monetary penalties

Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Zuckerman and U.S. Attorney Lelling thanked special agents of the Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigation Homeland Security Investigation, and the United States Secret Service in Boston, who conducted the investigation, and Senior Litigation Counsel Corey J. Smith of the Department of Justice, Tax Division, who prosecuted this case.

Financial Fraud
Press Release Number: 
Updated September 14, 2018