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Justice News

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

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Jury Convicts Two in $2.6M Stolen Identity, Tax Fraud Scheme

Grocery store served as the central collection point for fraudulent treasury checks obtained with stolen identities

PROVIDENCE, R.I. – A federal court jury in Providence today convicted two employees of a Pawtucket grocery store, the Dominican Supermarket, for their participation in a conspiracy to use the stolen identities of more than 400 individuals on fraudulent tax returns, resulting in the receipt of more than $2.6 million dollars in fraudulent federal tax return payments, announced United States Attorney Peter F. Neronha; Joel P. Garland, Special Agent in Charge, Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigation; Shelly A. Binkowski, Inspector in Charge of the United States Postal Inspection Service, Boston Division; and Stephen Marks, Special Agent in Charge of the United States Secret Service.

The jury, following six days of testimony and seven hours of deliberations over two days, convicted Doris Morel 44, of Central Falls, a full-time cashier at the Dominican Supermarket, on one count of conspiracy, one count of theft of government property, four counts of money laundering and four counts of aggravated identity theft. The jury convicted Erika Tomasino, 44, of Central Falls, a secretary for the owner of the supermarket, on one count of conspiracy, one count of theft of government property, three counts of mail fraud, three counts of money laundering and one count of aggravated identity theft.

The jury acquitted Morel of one count of mail fraud and Tomasino of one count of aggravated identity theft.

Morel and Tomasino, released on unsecured bond with electronic monitoring, are scheduled to be sentenced by U.S. District Court Chief Judge William E. Smith on December 22, 2014.

Two other individuals who participated in the conspiracy, Juan Vasquez, 53, of Pawtucket, the owner of the Dominican Supermarket, and his sister, Belkis Vasquez, 50, of Central Falls, previously pleaded guilty to federal charges brought in this matter and are scheduled to be sentenced on November 4, 2016.

Juan Vasquez pleaded guilty on August 19, 2016, to one count of conspiracy and one count of aggravated identity theft. Belkis Vasquez pleaded guilty on August 17, 2016, to one count of conspiracy. Both are scheduled to be sentenced by U.S. District Court Chief Judge William E. Smith on November 4, 2016.

According to the government’s evidence, for nearly four years, beginning in January 2010, the defendants participated in an extensive Stolen Identity Refund Fraud (SIRF) scheme. SIRF schemes involve the misuse of personal identifying information of individuals to file fraudulent tax returns. In this particular scheme, fraudulent tax returns were filed using stolen personal identifying information of more than 400 individuals, most of whom are residents of Puerto Rico.

According to the government’s evidence, fraudulent treasury checks were mailed to various locations in Rhode Island, Massachusetts and New York, and later deposited by the co-conspirators into 27 different bank accounts. The bank accounts were controlled by the co-conspirators or other individuals affiliated with the Dominican Supermarket.

The government’s evidence showed that the defendants and their co-conspirators withdrew the proceeds of the checks, caused others to withdraw some of the proceeds, transferred the proceeds between accounts, and spent the funds on personal expenses. Additionally, according to the government’s evidence, more than $235,000 of fraudulently obtained funds were transferred to a bank in the Dominican Republic.

The cases are being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Sandra R. Hebert and John P. McAdams.

The matter was investigated by Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigation, with the assistance of the United States Secret Service, United States Postal Inspection Service and the Pawtucket Police Department.

This law enforcement action is part of President Barack Obama’s Financial Fraud Enforcement Task Force.  The President established the interagency Financial Fraud Enforcement Task Force to wage an aggressive, coordinated and proactive effort to investigate and prosecute financial crimes.  The task force includes representatives from a broad range of federal agencies, regulatory authorities, inspectors general, and state and local law enforcement who, working together, bring to bear a powerful array of criminal and civil enforcement resources. 

The task force is working to improve efforts across the federal executive branch, and with state and local partners, to investigate and prosecute significant financial crimes, ensure just and effective punishment for those who perpetrate financial crimes, combat discrimination in the lending and financial markets, and recover proceeds for victims of financial crimes.

 

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Topic(s): 
Financial Fraud
Tax
Component(s): 
Press Release Number: 
16-95
Updated September 28, 2016