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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Southern District of Florida

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Wednesday, August 31, 2016

North Miami Check Casher Convicted at Trial for Cashing Over $11 Million in Fraudulent Tax Refund Checks

A North Miami check casher was convicted by a federal jury for cashing over $11 million in fraudulent tax refund checks obtained from the filing of stolen identities. 

Wifredo A. Ferrer, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Florida, Kelly R. Jackson, Special Agent in Charge, Internal Revenue Service, Criminal Investigation (IRS-CI), and Mark Selby, Special Agent in Charge, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations (ICE-HSI), made the announcement. 

Junior Jean Baptiste, 36 of North Miami, Florida, was convicted on charges of conspiracy to commit money laundering, money laundering, possession of five or more false identification documents, theft of government money, and aggravated identity theft. 

Sentencing is scheduled before U.S. District Judge Jose Martinez on October 31, 2016 at 1:30 p.m.  Baptiste faces possible terms of imprisonment of up to twenty years each for the conspiracy to commit money laundering and money laundering counts, up to ten years each for the theft of government money counts, up to five years each for the false identification documents counts, and a consecutive sentence of two years each on the aggravated identity theft counts. 

According to the evidence presented in court, from 2009 to 2011, the defendant operated a check cashing store called Surveillance Masters LLC in North Miami, Florida.  During this period, trial evidence demonstrated that the defendant knowingly cashed over $11 million from over 2,000 fraudulent tax refund checks that had been issued in the names of dead people, disabled people, and other people who do not typically file tax returns.  Furthermore, trial evidence showed that the defendant typically took a fee of half of the value of the checks and made false identification documents for his files.  Trial evidence demonstrated that, in connection with the cashing of these fraudulent checks, the defendant possessed over 900 false driver’s licenses, work permits, and green cards. 

Finally, the evidence at trial showed that the defendant used the fraudulently obtained funds for, among other things, a cargo ship, multiple vehicles, and rights to an album of a prominent hip-hop artist.  

Mr. Ferrer commended the investigative efforts of IRS-CI and ICE-HSI.  This case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Michael N. Berger and Michael B. Nadler. 

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.

Topic(s): 
Tax
Updated August 31, 2016