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Press Release

Defendant Sentenced in $19 Million Tax Fraud Conspiracy

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, District of Alaska

Anchorage, Alaska – U.S. Attorney Karen L. Loeffler announced today that Maximo Amparo-Vazquez, a/k/a Japhet Soto Santiago, a/k/a Luis Angel Cortez, a/k/a “Kiki”, 27, a citizen of the Dominican Republic formerly residing in Alaska, was sentenced to 84 months of imprisonment, followed by three years of supervised release.  Amparo-Vazquez pleaded guilty to conspiring to defraud the government with respect to claims on July 2, 2014.  In addition to his prison sentences, Amparo-Vazquez was ordered to pay restitution in the amount of $559,755 to the Internal Revenue Service.

Amparo-Vazquez was also sentenced to concurrently serve 24 months of imprisonment for pleading guilty to concealing and not making known to law enforcement the felony conduct of a drug trafficking organization.

According to court documents, from January 2010 to March 2012, Amparo-Vazquez , acting with Joel Santana-Pierna, Abel Santana-Pierna and others, conspired to use stolen Puerto Rican identities to file income tax returns for the purpose of obtaining fraudulent income tax refunds.

            Conspirators in the income tax fraud scheme obtained the stolen identities of more than 2,600 individuals, including people’s names and Social Security numbers.  Most of these stolen identities were from citizens of Puerto Rico.  Found on a laptop computer that Amparo-Vazuez consented to being searched by the government, were approximately 804 personal identities and approximately $6.375 million in prepared fraudulent tax refund claims.  In all, the amount of the conspiracy’s sham returns totaled over $19 million.

Joel Santana-Pierna, Abel Santana-Pierna, Misael Polanco-Villa, Nicolas Jimenez-Sanchez, Isaac Amparo-Vazquez, and Randin Paredes Henriquez, Wedys Ramirez-Javier, Samuel Peguero, Fatima Aguilar Martinez, Melissa Duran-Muniz and Hilda Josephine Hernandez McMullen were also indicted as conspirators in the scheme.  All of the indicted but Samuel Peguero and Wedys Ramirz-Javier have been sentenced.  Samuel Peguero is awaiting trial, while Wedys Ramirez-Javier remains a fugitive.

Before the imposition of sentence, Defense Attorney Peter Camiel requested Judge Timothy M. Burgess consider that a search of Amparo-Vazquez’s apartment found no drugs and no weapons when determining an appropriate sentence.  Judge Timothy M. Burgess responded that Amparo-Vazquez’s apartment metaphorically contained a weapon, a computer, which was used to assault the taxpayers of America.

Addressing the Court through an interpreter, Amparo-Vazquez apologized and said his intent was never to come to America and commit crimes.  He came to find work to help his father in the Dominican Republic.  Amparo-Vazquez shared that while he would be in jail his eighty-year-old father would probably pass away and that not seeing his father again was worse than time in jail.

Following the imposition of sentence, Judge Timothy M. Burgess addressed Amparo-Vazquez and advised him that a lot of people come here as immigrants and take advantage of the opportunities available to them in a positive way and make themselves and this country better, but Amparo-Vazquez did not do that and would now be paying the price.

The case was jointly prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Thomas C. Bradley, James Barkeley, and Stephanie C. Courter of the U. S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Alaska.  The case was investigated by the Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigation (IRS-CI), U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), which oversees Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), the U.S. Postal Inspection Service (USPIS), the U.S. State Department’s Diplomatic Security Service, and the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA).  Additional assistance was provided by the Tax Division of the United States Department of Justice as well as the U.S. Attorney’s Offices for the District of New Jersey, the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, and the Southern District of New York.
Updated February 9, 2015