Waterbury Man Sentenced to 12 Years in Prison for Role in Massive Stolen Identity Tax Refund Scheme
Deirdre M. Daly, United States Attorney for the District of Connecticut, Shelly A. Binkowski, Inspector in Charge for the Boston Division of the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, and William P. Offord, Special Agent in Charge of IRS Criminal Investigation in New England, today announced that on May 26, 2015, JULIO LARA TRINIDAD, 28, of Waterbury, was sentenced by Chief U.S. District Judge Janet C. Hall in New Haven to 144 months of imprisonment, followed by three years of supervised release, for participating in a stolen identity tax refund fraud scheme that resulted in a loss of more than $7.5 million from the U.S. Treasury.
“One of the Department of Justice’s Tax Division’s highest priorities is prosecuting people who use stolen identities to steal money from the U.S. Treasury by filing false tax returns,” stated U.S. Attorney Daly. “This scheme involved nearly $6.8 million dollars in fraudulent refunds – money stolen from law abiding taxpayers at an enormous cost to the Treasury. We hope that this lengthy prison term will deter other potential offenders as these prosecutions will continue to be a priority for our Office.”
“The defendants in this investigation attempted to utilize the mail to further their criminal enterprise,” stated Inspector in Charge Binkowski. “Based on the diligent work of Postal Inspectors and our state and federal law enforcement partners, Julio Lara Trinidad will be serving a lengthy prison sentence. This is a clear example that if criminals attempt to illegally utilize the mail, they will be brought to justice.”
“Those who commit stolen identity refund fraud (SIRF) of this magnitude and with this degree of deception deserve to be punished to the full extent of the law,” stated Special Agent in Charge Offord. “Mr. Trinidad’s 12-year prison sentence highlights the seriousness of SIRF crimes. The government is not the only victim – identity theft can have a severe emotional and financial impact on its victims. IRS, along with our law enforcement partners, remains vigilant in identifying, investigating and prosecuting those individuals who perpetrate these schemes.”
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.
While he was a fugitive from justice, TRINIDAD and his co-conspirators opened at least 59 bank accounts in the names of identity theft victims, depositing U.S. Treasury tax refund checks into the accounts, and then quickly withdrawing the funds, resulting in more than $663,000 in loss to the U.S. Treasury. Between December 2012 and February 2013, one of the accounts was used to purchase six licenses for a brand of tax preparation software. These licenses were used to file more than 36,000 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.
TRINIDAD’s co-defendants, Jerry De Los Santos Rodriguez and Cesar Penson-Perez, have admitted that they worked with TRINIDAD to open 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 has been detained since his arrest. On February 10, 2015, TRINIDAD pleaded guilty to one count of theft of public money and one count of aggravated identity theft.
De Los Santos Rodriguez, Penson-Perez, 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.