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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Middle District of Pennsylvania

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Operator Of Hazelton Business Indicted In Stolen Identity Tax Refund Fraud Case

     The United States Attorney’s Office for the Middle District of Pennsylvania announced that Rafael Sanchez, 50, formerly of Hazleton, was charged yesterday by a federal grand jury in Scranton in a 43-count Indictment with conspiracy in respect to claims, false claims, theft of public money, aggravated identity theft, conspiracy to commit wire fraud, and conspiracy to commit an offense against the United States.  The charges are felonies with each charge carrying a maximum possible prison sentence of between 5 and 20 years.

     According to U.S. Attorney Peter Smith, the Indictment alleges that Sanchez operated a business under the name of Sanchez Multi Service in Hazleton and that, from 2011 to 2014, Sanchez and others not named in the indictment used the identities of unknowing third parties to prepare and file fraudulent federal income tax returns.  The Indictment alleges that Sanchez deposited and cashed fraudulently obtained tax refund checks totaling hundreds of thousands of dollars.  Sanchez is also alleged to have conspired to make false statements to a federal firearms dealer in connection with the purchase of a firearm. 

     Sanchez was arrested in January 2014 and is currently on pre-trial release.

     The charges are the result of an on-going investigation by the Scranton Office of the Internal Revenue Service, Criminal Investigation.  The IRS received assistance in the investigation from the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) and the Hazleton City Police Department.     

     The case is assigned to Assistant United States Attorney William Houser for prosecution.

     Indictments and Criminal Informations are only allegations. All persons charged are presumed to be innocent unless and until found guilty in court.

     A sentence following a finding of guilty is imposed by the Judge after consideration of the applicable federal sentencing statutes and the Federal Sentencing Guidelines.

     In this case, the maximum penalty under the federal statute is 20 years imprisonment, a term of supervised release following imprisonment, and a fine. Under the Federal Sentencing Guidelines, the Judge is also required to consider and weigh a number of factors, including the nature, circumstances and seriousness of the offense; the history and characteristics of the defendant; and the need to punish the defendant, protect the public and provide for the defendant’s educational, vocational and medical needs. For these reasons, the statutory maximum penalty for the offense is not an accurate indicator of the potential sentence for a specific defendant.

Updated April 9, 2015