Pennsylvania And Louisiana Residents Charged In $2.2 Million Fraud Scheme Involving U.S. Treasury Checks
BATON ROUGE, LA - United States Attorney Walt Green announced today the conviction of one defendant, and the unsealing of an indictment against another defendant, in an ongoing investigation into a check cashing business in Baton Rouge that cashed more than $2.2 million in fraudulently-obtained U.S. Treasury checks during 2012 and 2013.
In one case, ANYELINA REYES, age 36, of Baton Rouge, Louisiana, has been charged in a Bill of Information, filed on July 15, 2014, with conspiracy to steal government funds, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 371. On November 20, 2014, REYES appeared before Chief U.S. District Judge Brian A. Jackson and pled guilty.
As REYES acknowledged in Court in connection with her guilty plea, in 2012 and 2013, she operated a store called “A&R Elite Team, LLC,” which was located on Florida Boulevard in Baton Rouge. REYES admitted that she was aware of a scheme to obtain United States Treasury checks that had been fraudulently obtained and that, after opening a bank account for her store, she agreed to help facilitate the scheme by using her store’s bank account to cash the Treasury checks. From April of 2012 through April of 2013, REYES deposited approximately 370 fraudulently-obtained Treasury checks into her business account, with such checks having a total face value of approximately $2.2 million. After depositing the checks into her account, and after retaining a percentage of the funds for herself, REYES would withdraw the remainder of the funds, in cash, and transmit the funds to her co-conspirators. As a result of her role in the scheme, REYES faces significant incarceration, fines, restitution, and supervised release following imprisonment.
In a related case, ALBELK REYES SERRATA, age 25, of Allentown, Pennsylvania, has been indicted and charged with conspiracy to steal government funds, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 371, and theft of government funds, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 641. The Indictment, which was filed on October 2, 2014 and recently unsealed, alleges that throughout 2012 and 2013, SERRATA also participated in a scheme to obtain fraudulent United States Treasury checks and have them cashed in Baton Rouge. The Indictment further alleges that, in April and May of 2014, SERRATA participated in the theft of (5) additional Treasury checks having a face value of approximately $28,000. SERRATA also faces significant incarceration, fines, restitution, and supervised release following imprisonment.
U.S. Attorney Green stated: “My office takes identity theft and crimes involving fraudulently-issued United States Treasury checks very seriously, especially when millions of taxpayer dollars are at stake. We will continue to work aggressively to investigate and prosecute schemes like these, which not only impact the United States Treasury, but also make it harder for taxpayers to properly file their own taxes and place their trust in the Internal Revenue Service.”
“Individuals who use stolen identities in furtherance of tax fraud, and those who assist in these schemes, will be prosecuted for their actions,” stated Jerome R. McDuffie, Acting Special Agent in Charge, IRS Criminal Investigation. “These cases should serve as a strong warning to those who are considering similar conduct for their own gain. Our agency will continue to work closely with the Department of Justice to protect the integrity of the tax system and protect the public from criminals who use others’ identities for illegal purposes."
This ongoing investigation is being handled by the Internal Revenue Service—Criminal Investigation Division. The matter is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Alan A. Stevens, who serves as a Deputy Chief of the Criminal Division, and Assistant U.S. Attorney Ryan Crosswell.
NOTE: An indictment is an accusation by the Grand Jury. A defendant is presumed innocent until and unless adjudicated guilty at trial or through a guilty plea.