Five Defendants Sentenced for their Participation in a Stolen Identity Tax Refund Fraud Scheme
The last of five defendants involved in a stolen identity tax refund scheme have been sentenced in United States District Court.
Wifredo A. Ferrer, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Florida, George L. Piro, Special Agent in Charge, Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Miami Field Office, and Kelly R. Jackson, Special Agent in Charge, Internal Revenue Service, Criminal Investigation (IRS-CI), made the announcement.
According to court documents, from January 2014, through April 2014, defendants, John Mackenley Cesar, a/k/a “Cesar,” 26, of Miami, Lawrence Bernadel, a/k/a “Bernadel,” 22, of Tallahassee, Chedlor Dorilus, a/k/a “Dorilus,” 22, of Hollywood, Lubens Inalien, a/k/a “Lubaby,” a/k/a “Inalien,” 29, of Fort Lauderdale, and Ariel Ronet Walker, a/k/a “Walker,” 22, of Tallahassee, used the same Electronic Filing Identification Number (“EFIN”) at residences located in Broward County and Leon County, Florida, to file approximately 158 fraudulent tax returns with the IRS using stolen personal identifying information (“PII”) that belonged to other individuals. In order to receive the tax refunds from those fraudulent tax returns, the defendants arranged to have the tax refunds deposited onto pre-paid debit cards, including pre-paid debit cards from H & R Block. Once the tax refunds were deposited onto the pre-paid debit cards, the funds were used to purchase personal items or were withdrawn from ATMs in Broward County and elsewhere.
During the search of the residences used by the defendants to facilitate the fraudulent scheme, law enforcement recovered over 1,800 names, dates of birth, and Social Security numbers belonging to other individuals. The total intended loss amount from the unauthorized tax filings and PII recovered from the residences was between $1 million and $2.5 million dollars.
Cesar, Bernadel and Dorilus pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to defraud the government with respect to claims, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 286; and one count of aggravated identity theft, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Sections 1028A(a)(1) and 2. Walker pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to defraud the government with respect to claims, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 286. Inalien pleaded guilty to one count of misprision of a felony, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 4.
On August 14, 2015, Dorilus was sentenced to 70 months in prison, to be followed by three years of supervised release. On December 11, 2015, Inalien was sentenced to 8 months in prison, to be followed by one year of supervised release. On January 22, 2016, Walker was sentenced to 5 years’ probation. On March 23, 2016, Cesar was sentenced to 58 months in prison, to be followed by three years of supervised release. On March 30, 2016, Bernadel was sentenced to 42 months in prison, to be followed by three years of supervised release. Cesar, Bernadel, Dorilus and Inalien were also ordered to pay joint and several restitution in the amount of $580,584. Walker was ordered to pay restitution in the amount of $124,631.
Mr. Ferrer commended the investigative efforts of the Stolen Identity Refund Fraud Task Force, with special commendation to the FBI and IRS-CI. This case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Maurice A. Johnson.
A copy of this press release may be found on the website of the United States Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Florida at www.usdoj.gov/usao/fls. Related court documents and information may be found on the website of the District Court for the Southern District of Florida at www.flsd.uscourts.gov or on http://pacer.flsd.uscourts.gov.