Waterbury Man Admits Role In Massive Stolen Identity Tax Refund Scheme
Deirdre M. Daly, United States Attorney for the District of Connecticut, announced that JULIO LARA TRINIDAD, 28, of Waterbury, pleaded guilty today in New Haven federal court to federal offenses stemming from a stolen identity tax refund fraud scheme that the government believes resulted in a loss of more than $7.5 million from the U.S. Treasury.
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 sold them for less than face value of the checks, or deposited them into bank accounts that had been opened using fraudulent identifying documents. The funds were then quickly withdrawn from the bank accounts.
In 2011, TRINIDAD was arrested in New Jersey for stealing U.S. Treasury tax refund checks from mailboxes. He pleaded guilty to a related charge in the District of New Jersey in January 2012. An arrest warrant was issued for TRINIDAD after he failed to appear for his sentencing in May 2012. TRINIDAD was arrested on November 23, 2013, and subsequently was charged by indictment in the District of Connecticut.
The government alleges that in June 2012, while he was a fugitive from justice, TRINIDAD opened a checking account in the name of an identity theft victim. Between December 2012 and February 2013, the checking account was used to purchase six licenses for a brand of tax preparation software. According to the government, these licenses were used to file more than 60,000 federal income tax returns, seeking more than $234 million in federal tax refunds intended to be issued to TRINIDAD and his co-conspirators. Nearly $6.8 million in fraudulent refunds were issued before the scheme was identified.
The government further alleges that TRINIDAD and individuals he recruited used additional stolen identities to open other bank accounts into which hundreds of thousands of dollars in fraudulently-obtained tax refunds were deposited. TRINIDAD’s co-defendant, Jerry De Los Santos Rodriguez, has admitted that he and TRINIDAD opened bank accounts using fraudulent identities. In addition, between July and October 2013, TRINIDAD and Ramon Mena sold more than $60,000 in fraudulently-obtained U.S. Treasury checks to an individual working with law enforcement. TRINIDAD and Mena received some of these checks from Pricilla Brito and Yowandy DeLeon.
TRINIDAD pleaded guilty to one count of theft of public money, which carries a maximum term of imprisonment of 10 years, and one count of aggravated identity theft, which carries a mandatory consecutive sentence of two years of imprisonment. He is scheduled to be sentenced by Senior U.S. District Judge Ellen Bree Burns on May 5, 2015.
TRINIDAD has been detained since his arrest.
De Los Santos Rodriguez, Mena, Brito and DeLeon previously pleaded guilty.
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.
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