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Press Release

Auto Transport Company Owner Charged with Falsifying U.S. DOT Records, Fraud, ID Theft, Tax Evasion

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, District of Rhode Island

PROVIDENCE – The owner of an East Providence automobile transport company was arraigned in U.S. District Court in Providence today on charges he falsified U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) - Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) records, fraudulently obtained more than $400,000 from various financial institutions, utilized another person’s personal identifying information to continue to illegally operate his auto hauling business after being ordered to shut down by the FMCSA for safety violations, and took numerous evasive steps to avoid paying personal income taxes to the IRS.

Michael Chaves, 39, owner of CAT Inc., was arraigned in U.S. District Court in Providence today before U.S. District Court Magistrate Judge Lincoln D. Almond on a ten-count information that charges him with falsification of records, aggravated identity theft, five-counts of bank fraud, two-counts of wire fraud, and tax evasion, announced United States Attorney Aaron L. Weisman, Special Agent in Charge of Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigation Kristina O'Connell, and Special Agent in Charge of the Region II U.S. Department of Transportation Office of Inspector General Douglas Shoemaker.

It is alleged in court documents that Chaves attempted to influence and impede FMCSA investigations and administrative compliance reviews by falsifying U.S. DOT records. FMCSA inspections include a review of driver’s hours of service, maintenance and inspection, driver qualification, commercial drivers (CDL) license requirements, financial responsibilities, accidents, hazardous materials, and other safety and transportation records.

It is also alleged in court documents that Chaves operated various schemes to fraudulently obtain loans and funds from several banks and credit unions. It is alleged that Chaves fraudulently obtained loans from at least six different financial institutions totaling $332,000, by providing fraudulent earning statements, tax returns, motor vehicle purchase contracts, and Department of Motor Vehicle documents.

It is also alleged that Chaves employed a fraudulent check scheme by submitting 15 fraudulent checks he allegedly created to an automobile seller’s bank account from which he withdrew $64,453 and that he allegedly caused the fraudulent wire transfer between financial institutions of $72,864.28.

It is also alleged in court documents that Chaves received taxable income that he did not report to the Internal Revenue Service and that he took several steps to evade income taxes by, among other things, commingling business and personal expenses; using a check casher to divert third-party income; creating fraudulent third-party checks and cashing them using a check casher, rather than a bank; and maintaining approximately 15 different bank accounts using at least 5 different company names.

An information is merely an accusation. A defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.

The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Dulce Donovan.

The matter was investigated by Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigations and the U.S. Department of Transportation Office of Inspector General, with the assistance of the East Providence Police Department and the National Crime Insurance Bureau.



Jim Martin
(401) 709-5357

Updated August 2, 2019

Financial Fraud
Identity Theft
Press Release Number: 19-96