A federal grand jury in Honolulu returned an indictment yesterday charging a Hawaii woman with filing false tax returns, wire fraud, money laundering and structuring related to her fraudulent application for unemployment assistance due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
According to the indictment, for 2016 through 2020, Heidi Cafirma, of Waipahu, filed with the IRS false joint personal tax returns for her and her spouse that underreported their total, business or other income and total taxes owed.
Cafirma allegedly also submitted a fraudulent application requesting Pandemic Unemployment Assistance benefits to which she was not entitled. From approximately June 2020 through September 2021, Cafirma allegedly filed weekly unemployment benefit certification forms in support of her application, falsely claiming she was not working or earning any income during the certification period. As a result, Cafirma allegedly received approximately $70,500 in fraudulent benefit payments. She also allegedly laundered money, and on three separate occasions in August 2018, allegedly made cash deposits each under $10,000 into two separate bank accounts in an effort to avoid currency transaction reporting requirements.
If convicted, Cafirma faces a maximum penalty of three years in prison for each false return count, 20 years in prison for each count of wire fraud, 10 years in prison for money laundering and five years in prison for illegal structuring. A federal district court judge will determine any sentence after considering the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.
Acting Deputy Assistant Attorney General Stuart M. Goldberg of the Justice Department’s Tax Division and U.S. Attorney Clare E. Connors for the District of Hawaii made the announcement.
IRS-Criminal Investigation is investigating the case.
Trial Attorney Sarah A. Kiewlicz of the Tax Division and Assistant U.S. Attorney Craig S. Nolan for the District of Hawaii are prosecuting the case.
An indictment is merely an allegation. All defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.