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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Northern District of California

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Richmond Resident Sentenced To 12 Years’ Imprisonment For Filing Fraudulent Tax Returns And Appropriating Fraudulent And Stolen Treasury Checks

OAKLAND– Hugh Robinson was sentenced to 144 months in prison for his role in a conspiracy to commit theft of government property, announced United States Attorney Brian J. Stretch, Acting Deputy Assistant Attorney General Stuart M. Goldberg of the Justice Department’s Tax Division, and Internal Revenue Service, Criminal Investigation, Special Agent in Charge Michael T. Batdorf.

Robinson, 46, of San Pablo, Calif., was charged along with ten codefendants on November 5, 2015, in a 71-count indictment with conspiracy to commit theft of public money, theft of public money, wire fraud, and aggravated identity theft. On October 31, 2016, a jury convicted Robinson of all charges against him in the indictment. The sentence was handed down yesterday by the Honorable Jeffrey S. White, U.S. District Judge.

According to the indictment and evidence presented at trial, from at least August 21, 2013, through April 27, 2015, the defendants conspired with one another to commit the offenses against the United States charged in the indictment, which included theft of government money. The scheme involved obtaining the names of deceased individuals, filing false tax returns in the names of those individuals, obtaining false identifications, and illegally cashing U.S. Treasury checks.

Robinson, with the assistance of others, obtained names of deceased individuals for use in filing false tax returns. To obtain identities for use in the scheme, the defendants searched California death records and obtained the names and personal identifying information of deceased individuals. The defendants then used the identities obtained from the death records to electronically file false federal income tax returns and caused the returns to be filed in the name of the deceased individuals with the IRS. The returns falsely represented that the individuals earned wages or other income and that the individuals listed on the tax returns were entitled to tax refunds. Robinson and other individuals working with them also listed on the tax returns certain physical addresses to which the defendants had access, enabling the defendants to retrieve the refund checks.

Also described in the indictment and at trial is the process by which the defendants cashed the fraudulently obtained U.S. Treasury checks. The evidence established that a co-conspirator provided false and fraudulent California identification documents which was used to negotiate the U.S. Treasury checks. The false identifications contained the pictures of designated co-conspirators who would cash the checks. In addition, Robinson and others brought some of the checks to a Walmart store in Richmond, Calif., where other co-conspirators cashed the checks. According to the indictment, two of the coconspirators were Walmart employees who knew the checks belonged to others and the U.S. Treasury. Further, Robinson and his coconspirators obtained false identification documents that matched other names on the U.S. Treasury checks and negotiated those illegally-obtained checks at various other Walmart stores. According to the criminal complaint filed in the case, a search of the location where Robinson resided yielded $237,394 worth of uncashed U.S. Treasury checks.

U.S. Attorney Stretch and Acting Deputy Assistant Attorney General Goldberg commended special agents of IRS–Criminal Investigation who conducted the investigation; as well as Assistant United States Attorneys Thomas Newman and Jose A. Olivera, and Trial Attorney Gregory Bernstein of the Justice Department Tax Division, who prosecuted the case.

Financial Fraud
Updated February 22, 2017