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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
District of Rhode Island

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Tuesday, April 30, 2019

9th Person Arrested in Investigations Into ID Theft, Bank Fraud Conspiracies

PROVIDENCE, RI – The ninth of ten individuals charged in a series of indictments, informations, and criminal complaints filed in U.S. District Court in Providence for their alleged participation in conspiracies and schemes to steal and use the personal identifying information of others to defraud banks, finance companies, car dealerships and retailers, has been arrested and has been ordered detained in federal custody.

Angel L. Morales, 51, of Bronx, New York, traveled to the Dominican Republic in September 2018, shortly after federal agents executed search warrants at the New Jersey apartment of one of his alleged co-conspirators. Morales returned to the United States on March 30, 2019, and was arrested in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., after arriving on a flight from the Dominican Republic. Morales was arraigned in U.S. District Court in Providence on Monday and ordered detained by U.S. District Court Magistrate Judge Patricia A. Sullivan.

Morales is among six individuals named in a 32-count superseding indictment returned on February 6, 2019. The indictment charges Morales with conspiracy to commit bank fraud, aggravated identity theft, and three counts of bank fraud. Morales is the fifth person named in the indictment to be arrested. An arrest warrant has been issued for the sixth person.

In addition to the individuals named in the superseding indictment, four individuals have been convicted in federal court for their roles in various related conspiracies and fraud schemes.

According to court documents, investigations led by the U.S. Secret Service with the assistance of the Social Security Administration, Office of the Inspector General/Office of Investigations; United States Postal Inspection Service; the East Providence, Warwick, and Pawtucket, R.I. Police Departments; Seekonk and Mansfield, MA, Police Departments; and the Rhode Island State Police, have determined that the defendants, most known to one another, allegedly participated in various conspiracies and schemes to steal and use individuals’ personal identifying information, including Social Security numbers, to defraud banks, credit unions, finance companies, and retailers of hundreds of thousands of dollars in Rhode Island, Massachusetts, Connecticut, and Pennsylvania.

Also named in the 32-count superseding indictment are:

  • Octavio Andres Difo-Castro, 28, of Brooklyn, N.Y., who has been detained since his arrest on August 9, 2018. He was arraigned on the superseding indictment on February 19, 2019, and is awaiting trial;
  • Patricia A. Peralta, 28, of Paterson, N.J., who was arrested on August 9, 2018, and released on unsecured bond on August 14, 2018. She was arraigned on the superseding indictment on February 15, 2019, and is awaiting trial;
  • Yenesia Pujols, 47, of Providence, R.I., who was arrested on February 8, 2019, and released on unsecured bond, and is awaiting trial;
  • Yafira Rodriguez, 26, of New Britain, Conn., who was arrested on February 26, 2019, and released on unsecured bond is awaiting trial; and
  • An arrest warrant has been issued for Israel Arana Ruiz Velasco, 45, address unknown.

 

Other individuals charged as a result of the investigation include:

  • Reynaldo Martinez, 25, of Providence, who pleaded guilty on November 8, 2017, to four counts of aggravated identity theft, two counts of access fraud, and one count each of bank fraud, conspiracy to commit fraud, attempted access fraud, and interstate transportation of stolen goods. Martinez was sentenced by U.S. District Court Judge John J. McConnell, Jr., on January 25, 2018, to 48 months in federal prison and ordered to pay restitution totaling $38,126.62 to businesses he defrauded;
  • Jason McDonald, 38, of Attleboro, MA, who pleaded guilty on March 29, 2018, to conspiracy, attempted bank fraud, fraudulent use of a Social Security number, and aggravated identity theft. Martinez was sentenced by U.S. District Court Judge John J. McConnell, Jr., on July 24, 2018, to 39 months in federal prison and ordered to pay restitution totaling $29,825 to businesses he defrauded;
  • Donald Wicklund, 33, of Pawtucket, who pleaded guilty on April 12, 2018, to two counts of wire fraud, five counts of fraudulent use of a Social Security Number, five counts of aggravated identity theft and three counts of bank fraud. Wicklund was sentenced by U.S. District Court Judge John J. McConnell, Jr., on January 7, 2019, to 24 months and one day in federal prison and ordered to pay restitution totaling $80,799.60 to businesses he defrauded; and
  • Jeffry Rodriguez, 37, of Providence, who pleaded guilty on September 20, 2018, to conspiracy to commit bank fraud, bank fraud, and aggravated identity theft. He is scheduled to be sentenced by U.S. District Court Judge John J. McConnell, Jr., on June 11, 2019.           

The investigations and charges brought in these cases are announced by United States Attorney Aaron L. Weisman, Special Agent in Charge of the U.S. Secret Service Stephen Marks, and Scott E. Antolik, Special Agent in Charge of the Boston Field Office of the Social Security Administration, Office of the Inspector General/Office of Investigations.

Indictments, criminal complaints, and informations are merely accusations. A defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.

The cases are being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney William J. Ferland.

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Topic(s): 
Financial Fraud
Identity Theft
Component(s): 
Contact: 
Jim Martin (401) 709-5357
Press Release Number: 
19-53
Updated April 30, 2019