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Press Release

Smith County Man Guilty In Mail Fraud Conspiracy

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Eastern District of Texas

Department of Justice
Office of Public Affairs

 TYLER, Texas – A 42-year-old Tyler, Texas man has pleaded guilty to mail fraud violations in the Eastern District of Texas, announced U.S. Attorney John M. Bales. 
Muhammad Sarfraz Ashraf pleaded guilty to an Information charging him with conspiracy to commit mail fraud on Sep. 19, 2013 before U.S. Magistrate Judge John D. Love.

According to information presented in court, from Nov. 2010 to June 2011, Ashraf, who owned and operated an automobile repair and maintenance shop in Tyler, conspired with others to cause the Smith County Tax Assessor-Collector’s Office to mail false certificate of title application packages to the Texas Department of Motor Vehicles.  The conspiracy was devised in order to obtain fraudulent vehicle titles and unlawfully avoid payment of sales taxes.  Specifically, Ashraf would omit the sales price on applications and indicate that the specific transfer was a gift.  Ashraf also falsified dates so as to make it appear transactions occurred prior to a change in Texas law regarding when transfers were considered gifts for tax purposes. 

Ashraf faces up to 5 years in federal prison and restitution.  A sentencing date has not been set.

This case is being investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Smith County Sheriff’s Office with assistance from the Smith County District Attorney’s Office.  This case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney L. Frank Coan, Jr.

Updated March 12, 2015