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Press Release

Los Angeles Attorney Arrested on Bank Fraud Charge for Allegedly Depositing Stolen Tax Refund Check Worth over $1 Million

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

          LOS ANGELES – Federal tax authorities this morning arrested an attorney on bank fraud charges for allegedly depositing a stolen U.S. Treasury check for just over $1 million.

          Thaddeus Julian Culpepper, 44, of South Los Angeles, was arrested this morning at his residence without incident by special agents with the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA).

          Culpepper is named in a criminal complaint filed on September 27 that charges him with one count of bank fraud. The affidavit in support of the criminal complaint alleges that Culpepper deposited 21 stolen tax refund checks worth more than $1.3 million into several attorney client trust accounts.

          In relation to one check for more than $1 million that he deposited into one of his client trust accounts, Culpepper allegedly told a bank representative that the payees were clients and had endorsed the check to him. Investigators have determined that Culpepper personally deposited the $1,003,814 check at a Well Fargo Bank branch in Pasadena in August 2017. “The listed payees, however, have confirmed that they never received their tax refund check, and that they do not know Culpepper,” according to the affidavit.

          The affidavit outlines 20 other checks that were deposited into client trust accounts that Culpepper opened at Chase Bank and Citibank. Investigators believe that the 21 checks deposited into Culpepper’s client trust accounts were stolen from the U.S. Mail.

          Culpepper is expected to make his initial court appearance in this case this afternoon in United States District Court in downtown Los Angeles.

          A complaint contains allegations that a defendant has committed a crime. Every defendant is presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty in court.

          The bank fraud charge alleged in the complaint carries a statutory maximum sentence of 30 years in federal prison.

          The case against Culpepper is being investigated by TIGTA.

          This matter is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Veronica Dragalin of the Public Corruption and Civil Rights Section.


Thom Mrozek
Spokesperson/Public Affairs Officer
United States Attorney’s Office
Central District of California (Los Angeles)

Updated October 5, 2018

Press Release Number: 18-157