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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
District of New Jersey

Thursday, January 19, 2017

New York Man Pleads Guilty To Role In $2.89 Million Stolen Identity Refund Scheme

NEWARK, N.J. – A Bronx, New York, man today admitted his role in a scheme to obtain stolen identity information and use it to file phony tax returns with the IRS, U.S. Attorney Paul J. Fishman announced.


Yerfri Castillo, 26, pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge John Michael Vazquez to an information charging him with one count of conspiracy to steal government funds, one count of theft of government funds, and one count of aggravated identity theft.


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


From January 2013 through May 2015, Castillo conspired with Jhan Luis Mejia Marcelino, 27, Odanys Orlando Rojas, a/k/a “El Fuerte,” 39, both of Bronx, and others to use stolen identities to commit tax refund fraud. Castillo admitted that he and others obtained stolen personal identifying information, including names and Social Security numbers, of victims located in New Jersey, Puerto Rico, and elsewhere. Afterwards, Castillo used the information to file fraudulent federal tax returns. Castillo also admitted that, once they received the refunds, he converted checks to cash or other proceeds for his own benefit.


Altogether, the conspiracy caused losses of over $2.89 million to the U.S. Treasury.


The conspiracy offense is punishable by a maximum potential penalty of five years in prison. The theft of government funds count is punishable by a maximum potential penalty of 10 years in prison. Both counts are punishable by a $250,000 fine, or twice the gain or loss resulting from the offense. The aggravated identity fraud charge is punishable by a mandatory two-year sentence to be served consecutively to any other term imposed. Sentencing is scheduled for May 2, 2017.


Both Mejia and Rojas pleaded guilty to their roles in September 2016 and await sentencing.


U.S. Attorney Fishman credited special agents of the IRS-Criminal Investigation, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Jonathan D. Larsen; postal inspectors of the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, under the direction of Inspector in Charge James V. Buthorn; special agents of the U.S. Postal Service Office of Inspector General, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Monica Weyler; and special agents of the U.S. Secret Service, Newark Field Office, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Mark McKevitt, with the investigation.


The government is represented by Assistant U.S. Attorney Elaine K. Lou of the Criminal Division in Newark.


Defense counsel: Edgar L. Fankbonner Esq.

Identity Theft
Press Release Number: 
Updated January 19, 2017