New Jersey Woman Pleads Guilty To Role In Stolen Identity Tax Refund Scheme
Deirdre M. Daly, United States Attorney for the District of Connecticut, announced that ARACELYS PICHARDO, 26, of Jersey City, New Jersey, waived her right to indictment and pleaded guilty today before U.S. Magistrate Judge Donna F. Martinez in Hartford to one count of theft of government property.
According to court documents and statements made in court, PICHARDO obtained fraudulent U.S. Treasury tax refund checks through her former boyfriend, Carlos Jose Luis, also known as Jose Quilestorres. The checks were payable to individuals from Puerto Rico whose identities had been stolen and in whose names tax returns generating the refund checks had been filed by various scheme participants. Between November 2011 and February 2012, PICHARDO provided at least 21 of these fraudulently obtained tax refund checks to Carlos Mateo. Mateo gave the checks to Jeovany Rios, who cashed them at credit union branches in Bridgeport, Milford and Danbury with the assistance of Angel Castellano, a teller at the credit union. Rios returned most of the funds to Mateo after taking a portion for himself and Castellano. Mateo then gave a majority of the funds he received to PICHARDO who passed the money on to Luis. Luis paid PICHARDO for her role in helping to transact the checks.
In total, PICHARDO provided Mateo with 21 U.S. Treasury tax refund checks totaling $137,860.70.
PICHARDO is scheduled to be sentenced by U.S. District Judge Robert N. Chatigny on December 29, 2014, at which time she faces a maximum term of imprisonment of 10 years and a fine of up to $250,000.
Mateo, Rios, and Castellano, all of Bridgeport, have pleaded guilty to charges related to this scheme.
In 2013, Luis pleaded guilty in both the Southern District of New York and the District of New Jersey, admitting that he was a leader of a scheme to steal more than $10 million in fraudulent federal tax refund checks. He is currently serving a 108-month federal prison term. (http://www.justice.gov/usao/nys/pressreleases/March14/QuilestorressentencingPR.php)
This matter is being investigated by the Internal Revenue Service – Criminal Investigation Division, and is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Sarala V. Nagala.
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