Twenty-Two Individuals Indicted For Bank Fraud And Aggravated Identity Theft
Defendants are facing a forfeiture allegation of $560,640.93
SAN JUAN, P.R. - On December 13, 2018, a federal Grand Jury returned a 37-count indictment charging 22 individuals with conspiracy to commit bank fraud, 18 substantive counts of bank fraud, and 16 counts of aggravated identity theft, announced Rosa Emilia Rodríguez-Vélez, U.S. Attorney for the District of Puerto Rico. During the course of the scheme, the defendants illegally obtained $560,640.43 from the Bureau of the Lottery of Puerto Rico (the “PR Lottery), a division of the Puerto Rico Treasury Department. The United States Secret Service was in charge of the investigation.
According to the indictment, defendant  Natalie Enid González-Rodríguez produced or procured fraudulent checks using the names and addresses of unsuspecting business concerns operating in Puerto Rico as apparent issuers of the checks (the “Fake Employers”) specifying the routing and account number for the PR Lottery’s bank account. The false checks were issued payable to one of the following defendants as employees or contractors:  Vanessa Pérez;  María Magdalena Silva, a.k.a. “María Magdalena Robaina/María Silva/María Robaina;”  Miguel Ángel Robaina, a.k.a. “Miguel Robaina;”  Destini Angelica Hanze, a.k.a. “Destini Hanze;”  Ángel Miguel Berríos-García, a.k.a. “Ángel M. Berrios-García/Ángel Berríos;”  Melissa Parilla-Belardo, a.k.a. “Melissa Parrilla;”  Luis Alberto Maldonado III, a.k.a. “Luis A. Maldonado/Luis Alberto Maldonado;”  Johanna Luciano-Velázquez, a.k.a. “Johanna Luciano;”  Martin Martínez-López, a.k.a. “Martin Martínez;”  Eric Alberto Delgado-Carmona, a.k.a. “Eric Delgado/Eric Delgado Carmona;”  Pedro Iván Cortés-Castañón, a.k.a. “Pedro Cortés/Pedro Iván Cortés;”  Allan R. Mercado-Serrano, a.k.a. “Allan Mercado;”  Julieanies Mercado-Laboy, a.k.a. “Julieanies Mercado;”  Marc Anthony Ramos-Medina, a.k.a. “Marc Anthony Ramos;”  Gustavo A. Cruz-Rosado, a.k.a. “Gustavo Cruz;”  Joshua A. Molina-Morales, a.k.a. “Joshua Molina;”  Natyshia Enid Soto-González, a.k.a. “Natyshia Enid Soto/Natyshia Soto;”  Edmilio Rosario-Ramírez, a.k.a. “Edmilio Rosario/Ángel Ruiz Rodríguez/El Millo;”  Angelo Rodríguez-Cortés, a.k.a. “Angelo Rodríguez;”  Antonio L. Pacheco-Ayala, a.k.a. “Antonio Pacheco;” and  Yalitza Quiñones-Figueroa, a.k.a. “Yaritza Quiñones.”
The indictment alleges that the co-conspirators would take the false checks to multiple discount stores to negotiate them in exchange for cash or to use them to buy consumer products and return the proceeds of the scheme to Natalie Enid González-Rodríguez, who would then give them a portion of those proceeds. By executing the scheme and cashing the false checks at the discount stores, supermarkets and department stores, the co-conspirators obtained and procured funds belonging to the PR Lottery by means of false or fraudulent pretenses, representations, or promises.
Defendant González-Rodríguez is facing 16 counts of aggravated identity theft. Between on or about October 2, 2015 through the date of this indictment, aided and abetted by the defendants listed in each count, and others known and unknown to the Grand Jury, did knowingly transfer, possess, and use, without lawful authority, a means of identification of another real person as detailed in each count during and in relation to the bank fraud.
“Defendant González-Rodríguez perpetrated this fraudulent scheme over many years, and involved many people who are defendants today for a fragment of the proceeds she generated. These charges once again demonstrate the U.S. Attorney’s Office resolve to investigate and prosecute those who perpetrate financial schemes to defraud unsuspected victims,” said U.S. Attorney Rosa Emilia Rodríguez-Vélez.
U.S. Secret Service Resident Agent in Charge Carlos Colón stated: “This case highlights the Secret Service’s investigative skills and our commitment to collaborate with our law enforcement partners in detecting and dismantling criminal organizations. These crimes have a detrimental impact to our nation’s critical financial infrastructure. Financial fraud is one of the largest challenges facing American citizens and businesses today. The United Secret Service will continue to collaborate with its law enforcement partners to target and arrest who commit this type of fraud.”
If convicted, the defendants face a maximum possible sentence of incarceration of 30 years for bank fraud, and a consecutive two-year mandatory minimum sentence for aggravated identity theft. The investigation was conducted by the United States Secret Service and the case is being prosecuted by AUSA Dennise N. Longo-Quiñones.
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