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Press Release

Hazleton Man Sentenced To Prison In Stolen Identity Refund Fraud Case

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

HARRISBURG - The United States Attorney’s Office for the Middle District of Pennsylvania announced that Rafael Sanchez, age 51 of Hazleton, Pennsylvania, was sentenced today in federal court in Scranton, by United States District Judge James M. Munley, to serve 94 months in prison after pleading guilty in April of this year to conspiracy to submit false claims and aggravated identity theft.

Sanchez was also ordered to serve an additional 3 years under court supervision upon his release from prison and to pay $694,237 in restitution to the Internal Revenue Service.

According to U.S. Attorney Peter Smith, Sanchez owned and operated Sanchez Multi Service, a check-cashing, tax preparation and money transfer business in Hazleton.  An Indictment returned by a federal grand jury last year alleged Sanchez and others used the identities of unknowing third parties to prepare and file fraudulent federal income tax returns.  The Indictment also alleged that Sanchez deposited and cashed fraudulently obtained federal tax refund checks totaling hundreds of thousands of dollars.   

Akeia Conner, Special Agent in Charge, Philadelphia Field Office stated, “The severity of today’s sentence sends a clear message to identity thieves who think they can defraud the United States Treasury.  The Internal Revenue Service, Criminal Investigation, along with the United States Attorney’s Office and our fellow law enforcement partners, will work diligently to pursue those who seek to enrich themselves at the expense of the American taxpayer.  The impact of identity theft on our taxpayers and our tax system is long lasting. The sentence imposed today tells identity thieves that the ramifications for their crime will also be long lasting.”

The investigation was conducted by the Scranton Office of the Internal Revenue Service, Criminal Investigation.  The IRS received assistance in the investigation from the Department of Homeland Security, Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) and the Hazleton City Police Department. The case was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney William S. Houser.


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Updated February 4, 2016