Four People Charged in Stolen Identity Fraud and Money Laundering Scheme Targeting Banks and COVID-19 Pandemic Relief Funds
Hialeah Police Department Officer Raul Castellon was arrested on Friday, March 17, 2017, on corruption and identify fraud charges.
Benjamin G. Greenberg, Acting United States Attorney for the Southern District of Florida, and George L. Piro, Special Agent in Charge, Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and Peter Forcelli, Special Agent in Charge, Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), Miami Field Division, made the announcement.
Raul Castellon, 38, of the Hialeah Police Department, was charged by indictment with affecting commerce by extortion under color of official right, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 1951(a), punishable by up to twenty years in prison. He was also charged with conspiracy to commit access device fraud, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 1029(b)(2), aggravated identity fraud, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 1028A, and possession of fifteen or more unauthorized access devices, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 1029(a)(3). Castellon is scheduled for an initial appearance today, at 1:30 p.m., before a United States Magistrate Judge in Miami.
According to the allegations contained in the indictment, as an officer for the Hialeah Police Department and as part of his regular duties, Castellon had access to Florida’s Driver and Vehicle Information Database (“DAVID”). DAVID is a confidential database that provides law enforcement officers with the driver and motor vehicle information of other persons, including personal identifying information, such as drivers’ license numbers, social security numbers, and dates of birth.
The indictment further alleges that from on or about June 1, 2016, and continuing through on or about October 19, 2016, Castellon used his law enforcement access to DAVID to log into the system, search for other persons, and take screen shots of other persons’ personal identifying information. The indictment also claims that Castellon sent over 25 of these DAVID screen shots to his codefendant Neilin Gonzalez Diaz in exchange for gifts.
Mr. Greenberg commended the investigative efforts of the FBI, including the Miami Area Corruption Task Force, ATF, Miami-Dade Police Department, and Hialeah Police Department. This case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Daniel Cervantes and Elina Rubin-Smith.
An indictment is a formal charging document notifying the defendant of the allegations that have been filed with the court. All persons charged by indictment are presumed innocent until proven guilty in a court of law.