Florida Man Sentenced To 17 Years in Prison for Stolen ID Theft Scheme, Obstruction of Justice
RICHMOND, Va. – Eddie Blanchard, 37, of Miami, Florida, was sentenced today to 204 months in prison, followed by three years of supervised release for his role in a stolen identity tax refund fraud scheme. Blanchard was also ordered to pay $568,625.07 in restitution.
Blanchard was found guilty by a federal jury on May 6, 2015. According to evidence presented at trial and other hearings, Blanchard participated in a Miami-based stolen identity refund fraud scheme. He and three confederates, Ramoth Jean, Junior Jean Merilia, and Jimmy Lord Calixte traveled repeatedly to Richmond in the early part of 2012 and used stolen personal identifying information to file hundreds of fraudulent tax returns, utilizing online tax preparation programs. Blanchard and his accomplices claimed significant refunds on those fraudulent returns, and requested that those refunds be placed on pre-paid debit cards, which were later mailed to Richmond addresses selected by the conspirators.
The scheme began to unravel when a Henrico County police officer encountered Jean removing a box containing stolen personal identifying information from a storage unit rented by the co-conspirators. Following Jean’s subsequent arrest on June 20, 2013, Blanchard convinced him to mislead federal investigators about the identity of his actual co-conspirators, going so far as to facilitate the creation of a fictional accomplice. Jean ultimately refused to testify before a federal grand jury about this matter.
On January 9, 2014, Jean was sentenced to 114 months in prison for his role in the fraud scheme. He was subsequently sentenced to an additional eight months in prison on a separate contempt charge for his refusal to testify before the grand jury. On June 19, 2015, Merilia was sentenced to a total of 133 months in prison for his role in the fraud scheme and the subsequent obstruction of justice. Calixte is currently a fugitive.
Dana J. Boente, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia; Thomas Jankowski, Special Agent in Charge, Washington D.C. Field Office, IRS-Criminal Investigation (IRS-CI); and David G. Bowers, Acting Inspector in Charge of the Washington Division of the U.S. Postal Inspection Service (USPIS), made the announcement after sentencing by U.S. District Judge Henry E. Hudson.
This case was investigated by IRS-CI and USPIS, with assistance from the Henrico County Police Department as part of the Metro-Richmond Identity Theft Task Force. Other member agencies of the Task Force include: Bureau of Diplomatic Security, U.S. Department of State, and Chesterfield County Police Department. Prosecutions for the Task Force are handled by the United States Attorney’s Office and the Office of the Attorney General for the Commonwealth of Virginia. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Michael C. Moore and Thomas A. Garnett are prosecuting the case.
A copy of this press release may be found on the website of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Virginia. Related court documents and information may be found on the website of the District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia or on PACER by searching for Case Nos. 3:13cr136, 3:14cr73, 3:14cr139, and 3:15cr39.