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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
District of Puerto Rico

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Tuesday, September 30, 2014

13 Individuals Charged With Theft Of Public Money And Aggravated Identity Theft

SAN JUAN, P.R. – A federal grand jury in the District of Puerto Rico returned seven indictments against 13 defendants charged with theft of public money and aggravated identity theft, announced Rosa Emilia Rodríguez-Vélez, United States Attorney for the District of Puerto Rico.  Today Internal Revenue Service (IRS) agents and with the assistance of the task force officers of the Puerto Rico Police Department (PRPD), the Puerto Rico Treasury Department, and the Puerto Rico Special Investigations Bureau executed the arrest.

Out of the 13 defendants, nine are charged with conspiracy to unjustly enrich themselves by fraudulently obtaining United States Department of Treasury tax refunds to which they were not entitled.  Members of the conspiracy would submit false and fraudulent federal income tax returns to the United States Department of Treasury using names and social security numbers of individuals without their knowledge or authority.  They designated mailing addresses where the tax refunds would be sent, but these were not the true and correct mailing addresses of the individuals whose identities were used to file the false and fraudulent federal income tax returns. Based upon these false and fraudulent income tax returns, the United States Department of Treasury issued income tax refunds, unbeknownst to the individuals whose names and social security account numbers were fraudulently used, to the members of the conspiracy by mailing U.S. Treasury checks to the mailing addresses designated in the false and fraudulent federal tax returns. The members of the conspiracy would forge the endorsement of the individual whose name was on each U.S. Treasury check as the recipient of the refund. They would then negotiate and cause the checks to be deposited in exchange for cash.  

Upon conviction of one or more of the violations of 18 USC § 641 set forth in the indictments the defendants shall forfeit to the United States of America pursuant to 18 USC § 981 (a) (1) (C) and 28 USC § 2461 (c), any property , real or personal which constitutes or is derived from profits traceable to the offense.  The property to be forfeited includes, but is not limited to, the amount of $1,184,937.52.

“Today’s arrests demonstrate our commitment to investigate and prosecute those who steal the identities of unsuspecting victims in order to enrich themselves at the expense of the federal government.” said U.S. Attorney Rosa Emilia Rodríguez-Vélez.

 “Identity theft remains a top priority for the Internal Revenue Service. The indictments announced today send a clear message that stealing identities to file tax returns and receive fraudulent refunds will not be tolerated. The individuals who commit these crimes will be brought to justice. We are committed to safeguarding the U.S. Treasury and the public against stolen identity refund fraud,” stated IRS-CI Acting Special Agent in Charge Donnell Young.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Justin Martin is in charge of the prosecution of the case.  If convicted, the defendants face a sentence of up to 10 years of imprisonment under 18 U.S.C. § 641, a minimum sentence of 2 years of imprisonment under 18 U.S.C. § 1028A(c) and a sentence of up to 5 years of imprisonment under 18 U.S.C. § 371. Indictments contain only charges and are not evidence of guilt.  Defendants are presumed to be innocent until and unless proven guilty.

Criminal indictments are only charges and are not evidence of guilt. A defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.

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Updated April 14, 2015