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Press Release

Worcester Semi-Pro Football Player Sentenced for Tax Refund Fraud Scheme

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

BOSTON – A member of the Worcester Wildcats semi-professional football team was sentenced today in U.S. District Court in Worcester for his role in carrying out a stolen identity refund fraud scheme that resulted in an almost $1 million loss to the federal government. 

Jose Manuel Abreu-Elicier, 24, was sentenced by U.S. District Judge Timothy S. Hillman to 12 months and a day in prison, 24 months of supervised release, and $993,158.43 in restitution.  In June 2015, Abreu-Elicier pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to convert public money.

Between November 2011 and November 2012, Abreu-Elicier and other co-conspirators fraudulently obtained and cashed federal income tax refund checks issued in the names of unsuspecting identity theft victims.  These checks were issued based on fraudulent federal income tax filings submitted to the IRS using the names, social security numbers, and other stolen personal information of victims.  In order to cash the checks, Abreu-Elicier worked with Cynthia Mansfield, the manager of a Worcester-area bank, who, in exchange for a fee, cashed the checks, falsified bank records, and concealed the existence of the fraud.  Over the course of the entire scheme, Abreu-Elicier and his co-conspirators cashed 138 fraudulently obtained U.S. Treasury checks worth $993,158.

This case was investigated and prosecuted as part of Operation Point Break, a three-year, multi-agency federal law enforcement initiative aimed at combatting stolen identity refund fraud across the country.

“Stolen identity refund fraud has become pervasive in the United States,” said United States Attorney Carmen M. Ortiz.  “Not only does it damage the integrity of our tax system and defraud the government, but it also endangers the security of individuals’ personal information.”

"The sentence imposed today should serve as a clear warning – those who steal the IDs of innocent taxpayers and then cheat the Federal Government will pay a heavy price when they are caught," said Special Agent in Charge William Offord of IRS Criminal Investigation. “IRS will continue to enforce our nation’s tax laws and pursue criminals who prey on innocent victims through identity theft.”

Mansfield was charged separately for her role in the conspiracy, and sentenced in April 2015 to five years of probation, 11 months of which must be served in a residential re-entry center, and ordered to pay full restitution.

U.S. Attorney Ortiz and IRS-CI SAC Offord made the announcement today.  The case was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Jordi de Llano of Ortiz’s Major Crimes Unit.

Updated February 4, 2016