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Press Release

Bergen County, New Jersey, Woman Charged With Tax Evasion, Defrauding Two New York Law Firms Out Of $7.8 Million

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

NEWARK, N.J. - A Newark federal grand jury today indicted an Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey, woman for tax evasion and using bogus litigation support companies to obtain millions from two law firms where she was a partner, U.S. Attorney Paul Fishman announced.

Keila Ravelo, 50, is charged by indictment with one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud, four counts of wire fraud and four counts of tax evasion. Ravelo and her husband, Melvin Feliz, 49, also of Englewood Cliffs, were originally arrested and charged by complaint on Dec. 22, 2014 with conspiracy to commit wire fraud.

According to documents filed in the case and statements made in court:

Ravelo worked as a partner for a company identified in the indictment as “Law Firm 1” from July 1, 2005 through October 2010. She then became partner for another company identified as “Law Firm 2” and worked there from October 2010 through November 2014.

From 2008 through July 2014, Ravelo and Feliz allegedly formed two limited liability companies, “Vendor 1” and “Vendor 2,” which purported to provide litigation support for both firms, but in fact provided no actual services. Ravelo and Feliz controlled Vendor 1 and Vendor 2 bank accounts and submitted invoices to Law Firm 1, Law Firm 2 and a client of both firms for work that was never performed. Ravelo, in her capacity as a partner at the law firms, allegedly approved payments to Vendor 1 and Vendor 2, which Ravelo and Feliz later used for personal expenses.     

Over the course of the conspiracy, the law firms paid Vendor 1 and Vendor 2 a combined total of approximately $7.8 million. The indictment further alleges that Ravelo willfully failed to report the fraudulent earnings on her tax returns.

The conspiracy charge and each count of wire fraud are punishable by a maximum potential penalty of 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine, or twice the gross gain or loss from the offense. The tax evasion charges are each punishable by a maximum potential penalty of five years in prison and a $100,000 fine.

The charges and allegations in the indictment are merely accusations, and Ravelo is considered innocent unless and until proven guilty.

On Aug. 25, 2015, Feliz pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge Kevin McNulty in Newark federal court to an information charging him with one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud and one count of tax evasion. His sentencing is currently scheduled for Dec. 14, 2015.

U.S. Attorney Fishman credited law enforcement officers of the Drug Enforcement Administration, Newark Division, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Carl Kotowski, and law enforcement officers of IRS-Criminal Investigation, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Jonathan D. Larsen, with the investigation.

The government is represented by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Ronnell Wilson, Andrew Kogan, and Brian Urbano of the U.S. Attorney’s Office Criminal Division, Barbara Ward, Acting Chief of the office’s Asset Forfeiture and Money Laundering Unit, and Assistant U.S. Attorney David Foster of the U.S. Attorney’s Office Special Prosecution’s Division in Newark.

Defense counsel: Lawrence S. Lustberg Esq., Newark, and Steven H. Sadow Esq., Atlanta, Georgia

Updated February 24, 2016

Press Release Number: 15-403