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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
District of Connecticut

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Friday, May 9, 2014

Two New York Women Admit Trafficking Fraudulent Federal Tax Refund Checks


Deirdre M. Daly, United States Attorney for the District of Connecticut, announced that PRICILLA BRITO, 38, of New York, N.Y., and YOWANDY DeLEON, 38, of the Bronx, N.Y., pleaded guilty today before Senior U.S. District Judge Ellen Bree Burns in New Haven to federal offenses related to the trafficking of fraudulent federal tax refund checks.

According to court documents and statements made in court, this matter stems from an investigation into individuals who, through various means, obtained fraudulent U.S. Treasury tax refund checks using stolen identities.  After obtaining the checks, individuals typically deposited them into bank accounts that had been opened using fraudulent identifying documents.  The funds were then quickly withdrawn.  At times, co-conspirators sold the fraudulent checks to others for less than face value of the checks.  The government alleges that millions of dollars were lost as result of this scheme.

BRITO and DeLEON obtained several fraudulent tax refund checks, subsequently delivered some of the checks to co-conspirators in Connecticut, and received proceeds from the negotiation or sale of fraudulent checks.

In 2013, BRITO provided at least nine checks, with a total face value of $59,802, to an individual in Waterbury.  In an undercover operation, the checks were then purchased by an individual working with law enforcement for $35,590.

In October 2013, DeLEON traveled to Connecticut to provide co-conspirators with one fraudulent check with a face value of $7,580.38.  In addition, a law enforcement search of DeLEON’s cell phone revealed images of names, dates of birth, Social Security numbers, and amounts of refunds for 32 individuals whose identities had been used in filing fraudulent federal tax returns.  In total, the intended loss to the U.S. Treasury resulting from the checks that DeLEON provided to co-conspirators, as well as the refunds issued to the 32 individuals whose personal information was found on her phone, was $240,450.

BRITO pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to defraud the U.S.  She is scheduled to be sentenced on August 6, 2014, at which time she faces a maximum term of imprisonment of five years.

DeLEON pleaded guilty to one count of theft of public funds, and aiding and abetting the theft of public funds.  She is also scheduled to be sentenced on August 6, 2014, at which time she faces a maximum term of imprisonment of 10 years.

Four other individuals have been charged as a result of this investigation:

On February 12, 2014, Ramon Mena, 25, of Waterbury, pleaded guilty to one count of theft of public money and one count of distribution of heroin.  He has been detained since his arrest on November 23, 2013, and is scheduled to be sentenced on November 1, 2014.

On February 20, 2014, Jerry de los Santos Rodriguez, 23, a citizen of the Dominican Republic last residing in Waterbury, pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to defraud the U.S.  On May 1, 2014, he was sentenced to approximately five months of imprisonment, time already served, and he will be deported.

Julio Lara Trinidad, 27, of Waterbury, and Cesar Penson-Perez, 27, of New York, N.Y., are awaiting trial.

Trinidad is charged with one count of conspiracy to defraud the U.S., six counts of theft of public money and aiding and abetting the same, one count of Social Security fraud and one count of aggravated identity theft.  He has been detained since his arrest on November 23, 2013.

Penson-Perez is charged with one count of conspiracy to defraud the U.S., three counts of theft of public money and one count of aggravated identity theft.  He has been detained since his arrest by the Darien Police Department on March 17, 2014.

As to Trinidad and Penson-Perez, U.S. Attorney Daly stressed that an indictment is not evidence of guilt.  Charges are only allegations, and each defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.

This matter is being investigated by the United States Postal Inspection Service, the Internal Revenue Service – Criminal Investigation Division, the United States Secret Service and Homeland Security Investigations, with the assistance of the Danbury and Darien Police Departments.  The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Sarala V. Nagala.

PUBLIC AFFAIRS CONTACT:

U.S. ATTORNEY'S OFFICE
Tom Carson
(203) 821-3722
thomas.carson@usdoj.gov

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Updated March 18, 2015