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Justice News

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

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Third Person Returns To U.S. To Plead Guilty In A False Income Tax Refund Scheme


COLUMBUS, OHIO – Suheidy A. Warner, 31, of Columbus pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to file false claims for federal income tax refunds with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). Warner faces a maximum of 10 years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000.

Carter M. Stewart, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Ohio; Kathy A. Enstrom, Special Agent in Charge, Internal Revenue Service (IRS), Criminal Investigation, Cincinnati Field Office; and Christopher White, Assistant Inspector in Charge, U.S. Postal Inspection Service announced the guilty plea entered before U.S. District Judge Gregory L. Frost.

According to court documents, between February 2010 and June 2010 Warner abused her position of trust as a Chase Bank teller by cashing approximately 36 federal income tax refund checks she knew were fraudulently obtained.  Warner was not given authorization by Chase Bank to cash these checks and was subsequently terminated.

The tax refund checks were given to Warner by a man who identified himself as Rafael Mota.  Rafael Mota told her that the checks needed to be cashed for people that did not have identification, so they could cash the refund checks themselves.

The income tax refund checks were mailed to pre-arranged addresses, usually apartments in New York, New Jersey and other nearby states.  The addresses contained on many of the income tax refund checks often shared the same street address, but different apartment numbers.  This made it easier to collect the income tax refund checks from one location. The income tax refund checks were collected by corrupt postal workers, apartment superintendents, or other perpetrators who simply waited for the checks to be delivered by unknowing mail carriers.  The perpetrators then used couriers to travel to surrounding states, including to Columbus, Ohio, to cash the checks at various check-cashing service businesses, including San Isidro Cargo.  The owners of San Isidro Cargo were Mercedes Emelinda-Silie, Warner’s sister, and Jose Martinez, a family friend.

Warner used various Chase Bank customer accounts to cash the income tax refund checks.  Warner deposited the funds into two prearranged accounts.  One account was that of a co-conspirator located in New Jersey.  The second was the account of Alberto Rivera Falcon.  Nineteen income tax refund checks totaling $126,108.30 were deposited into Falcon’s account.  Seventeen income tax refund checks totaling $62,107 were deposited into the account of the co-conspirator located in New Jersey.  Warner received approximately $200 to $300 per check.

Warner admitted to hand-carrying these U.S. Treasury checks to work at Chase Bank, using Falcon’s account to deposit them, withdrawing large sums of cash, and leaving the bank with the cash in her possession and providing the currency to other co-conspirators.

The income tax refund checks, and the believed stolen State of New Jersey tax refund checks, were the sole sources of deposits into both accounts.  Warner received the income tax refund checks with the endorsed signature directly from Rafael Mota and Alberto Falcon.  None of the income tax refund checks bore Warner’s name, Falcon’s name, Mota’s name or the New Jersey co-conspirator’s name.

The total tax loss associated with Warner’s involvement in this conspiracy is approximately $188,215.30, which represents the total of the 36 purported income tax refund checks that she helped to negotiate.

On April 4, 2014 Jose Luis Martinez, 48, of Columbus, Ohio was sentenced by U.S. District Judge Gregory L. Frost to 60 months in prison, three years of supervised release, and ordered to pay $4,415,492.58 in restitution to the IRS for his role in a conspiracy to defraud the IRS by filing false claims for federal income tax refunds and for operating an unlicensed money transmitting business.

On April 24, 2014 Mercedes Emelinda-Silie, 41, of Grove City, Ohio was sentenced by U.S. District Judge Gregory L. Frost to 36 months in prison, three years of supervised release, and ordered to pay $4,415,492.58 in restitution to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) for her role in a conspiracy to defraud the IRS by filing false claims for federal income tax refunds.

"These defendants perpetuated an elaborate scheme driven by insatiable greed and a blatant disregard for the tremendous damage inflicted on innocent victims,” said Kathy A. Enstrom, Special Agent in Charge, IRS Criminal Investigation, Cincinnati Field Office. “Be assured that IRS Criminal Investigation, along with our law enforcement partners and the U.S. Attorney's Office, will hold those who engage in identity theft and refund fraud fully accountable."

Stewart commended the investigation by IRS-Criminal Investigation and the U.S. Postal Service, as well as Assistant United States Attorney Daniel Brown, who is representing the United States in this case.

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Updated July 23, 2015