Wifredo A. Ferrer, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Florida, Richard Weber, Chief, IRS-Criminal Investigation Division (IRS-CI), Paula Reid, Special Agent in Charge, U.S. Secret Service, Michael B. Steinbach, Acting Special Agent in Charge, Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Miami Field Office, Antonio J. Gomez, Acting Inspector in Charge, U.S. Postal Inspection Service, Miami Division, Guy Fallen, Special Agent in Charge, Social Security Administration, Office of Inspector General (SSA-OIG), Kelly R. Jackson, Special Agent in Charge, IRS-CI, St. Paul Field Office, Steven Steinberg, Chief, Aventura Police Department, Larry Gomer, Interim Chief, North Miami Beach Police Department, and Juan Santana, Chief, Miami-Dade Police Department, announced the filing of federal charges against 40 defendants in 20 separate cases, dealing with thousands of stolen identities and millions of dollars of fraudulent identity theft tax filings.  Today’s cases reaffirm the joint federal and local commitment to crack-down on stolen identity tax refund (SITR) fraud perpetrators.

 

        According to the Federal Trade Commission, Florida had the highest rate of identity theft in the United States in 2011.  While identity theft in Florida ranks highest in the United States, the identity theft rate in Miami has reached near epidemic proportions.  Florida’s rate of 178 complaints per 100,000 residents – the highest in the United States – is dwarfed by the Miami rate of 324.1 complaints per 100,000 residents. 

 

Moreover, a September 2012 report by the U.S. Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA) determined that Florida has the highest rate of stolen identity tax refund fraud in the United States.  The report identified 74,496 potentially fraudulent returns filed in Miami resulting in more than $280 million in bogus refunds. The City of Miami’s per capita number of false returns based on identity theft was 46 times the national average, and its per capita SITR fraud dollar value was more than 70 times the national average.  Worse still, this problem is projected to grow:  the TIGTA report estimates that the IRS could issue as much as $21 billion in fraudulent tax refunds over the next five years. 

 

        In an attempt to combat the rising wave of stolen identity refund scams, and armed with newly enhanced investigative and prosecutorial tools under the Department of Justice’s Tax Directive 144, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Florida established the South Florida Identity Theft Tax Fraud Strike Force (Strike Force).  The members of the Strike Force include IRS-CI, U.S. Secret Service, FBI, U.S. Postal Inspection Service, City of Aventura Police Department, Miami-Dade Police Department, North Miami Beach Police Department, and the SSA-OIG.  The focus of the Strike Force is to investigate and prosecute SITR fraud in the SDFL.  Today, U.S. Attorney Ferrer, joined by members of the Identity Theft Tax Fraud Strike Force, announced the most recent results of their investigative efforts.

 

U.S. Attorney Wifredo A. Ferrer stated, “So far this year, we have charged a total of 79 individuals responsible for almost $40 million in fraudulent tax refunds obtained through identity theft.  The cases being investigated and prosecuted include victims from all walks of life, including police officers, potential U.S. Marine recruits, members of the Armed Forces, holocaust survivors, school children, hospital patients, the elderly and infirm, incarcerated prisoners, and even the dead.  In addition, our cases show a troubling change in the nature of these cases, away from traditional white collar criminals to more violent criminals, like gang members and narco-traffickers, who are using stolen identity refund scams to fuel their other, violent, criminal activities.  We will continue to crack down on identity thieves who are lining their pockets with our tax dollars and using violence to obtain the personal identification information of others.”   

 

“Today’s announcement should reassure American taxpayers that IRS Criminal Investigation has put into action our pledge to make investigating identify theft and refund fraud a top priority,” stated Richard Weber, Chief, IRS Criminal Investigation.  “Be assured that we are serious about investigating these crimes and, as we capitalize on the collective strength of the

Identity Theft Tax Fraud Strike Force, we will succeed in vigorously pursuing the criminals who steal from the American taxpayer.”

 

“The U.S. Secret Service is glad to be an integral part of the Strike Force coordinated between the U.S. Attorney’s Office and the Internal Revenue Service to combat this fraud scheme that is plaguing South Florida.”

 

“Identity theft tax fraud has reached an epidemic level and these cases demonstrate that the FBI and its law enforcement partners will devote considerable resources to address the issue,” said Michael B. Steinbach, Acting Special Agent in Charge, Federal Bureau of Investigation.  “Prevention by way of educating the public is also key to reducing the amount of this type fraud.  Consequently, we urge the public to visit www.ftc.gov or www.ic3.gov, as it provides detailed information on how to help deter, detect, and defend against identity theft.”

 

Antonio Gomez, Acting Inspector in Charge of the Miami Division of the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, added, “As a member of the Identity Theft Tax Fraud Strike Force, the U.S. Postal Inspection Service will work diligently with the U.S. Attorney’s Office and with law enforcement at the federal, state and local level to protect American citizens from suspects who prey on their identification for financial gain.  Our commitment to the South Florida community is to continue to pursue these cases under Mr. Ferrer’s leadership and guidance so that the U.S. Mails are never used as a conduit to defraud unknowing victims of this type of crime.”

 

Guy Fallen, Special Agent in Charge of the SSA-OIG, added “Assuming the identity of another to commit fraud, unfortunately, is a common occurrence.  SSA-OIG special agents are well-trained to detect, investigate, and locate identity thieves, and SSA/OIG, in concert with the U.S. Attorney’s Office, will investigate and prosecute those who commit identity theft and defraud Social Security trust funds.”

 

“It is through the collaborative efforts of our agencies that we have been successful in investigating and prosecuting tax fraud in Miami-Dade County.  We are pleased with the outcome and will continue to work together with our partner agencies in order to make positive impacts on our community,” said Chief Juan Santana of the Miami-Dade Police Department.

 

The cases announced today include:  

1.      United States v. Serge St-Vil, et al., Case No. 12-20768-CR-Scola

 

        On October 5, 2012, three (3) defendants were charged in a thirteen count indictment for their participation in a stolen identity tax refund scheme that resulted in the submission of approximately $14 million in fraudulent refund claims.  Charged in the indictment are Serge St-Vil, 62, of Miami, Muller Pierre, 62, of North Miami Beach, and Finshley Fanor, 34, of Lauderhill.  According to the indictment, Fanor applied for an electronic filing identification number (EFIN), enabling him to file fraudulent returns for other individuals.  To further the scheme, defendant St-Vil used personal identification information, including names and Social Security numbers, of deceased persons to file false individual income tax returns seeking refunds.  St-Vil filed these returns using defendant Fanor’s EFIN.  In this way, the defendants filed more than 5,000 individual income tax returns, nearly all of which were in the names of deceased persons, seeking approximately $14 million in fraudulent refunds.  More than $6 million in refunds were deposited into bank accounts controlled by some of the defendants.    

 

        The defendants were charged with conspiracy to submit fraudulent claims to the government, wire fraud, and aggravated identity theft.  Mr. Ferrer commended the investigative efforts of the Identity Theft Tax Refund Strike Force, with special commendation to the IRS-CI, the U.S. Secret Service, the Miami Gardens Police Department, and the North Miami Beach Police Department.  The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Michael N. Berger.

 

2.      United States v. Rodney Saint Fleur, Case No. 12-20772-CR-Scola

 

        On October 9, 2012, Rodney Saint Fleur, 32, of West Park, was charged in a three count Information with using more than 26,000 identities in a tax refund scheme from 2009 through 2011.  According to the Information, the defendant and co-conspirators agreed on a plan to use stolen personal identification information to file fraudulent tax returns. More specifically, from April 2009 through October 2011, the defendant searched a public database and fraudulently obtained the Social Security numbers of more than 26,000 people.  The defendant provided these Social Security numbers to co-conspirators for use in an identity theft tax refund scheme.  Armed with the stolen personal identification information, co-conspirators filed fraudulent and unauthorized tax returns seeking refunds in the names of the victims whose identification had been stolen by Saint-Fleur.   

       

The defendant was charged with conspiracy to submit fraudulent claims to the government, possession of fifteen or more unauthorized access devices, and aggravated identity theft.  Mr. Ferrer commended the investigative efforts of IRS-CI (St. Paul and Miami) and the North Miami Beach Police Department.  The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Michael N. Berger.

 

3.      United States v. Lineten Belizaire, et al., Case No. 12-20763-CR-Altonaga

 

        On October 5, 2012, four (4) defendants were charged in a seventeen count indictment for their participation in a stolen identity tax refund scheme that resulted in the submission of approximately $1 million in fraudulent refund claims.  Charged in the indictment were Lineten Belizaire, 21, Earnest Baldwin, 37, Earl Baldwin, 41, and Marckell Steward, 21, all of Miami.  According to the indictment, defendant Belizaire exchanged personal identification information of various individuals with defendant Steward and other co-conspirators, for the purpose of submitting fraudulent tax returns to the IRS.  Co-conspirators allegedly caused hundreds of fraudulent and unauthorized tax returns in various individuals’ names to be submitted to the IRS, requesting payment of tax refunds onto pre-paid debit cards.  Defendant Earnest Baldwin allegedly possessed several notebooks, containing more than one thousand names and corresponding dates of birth and Social Security numbers, which appeared to be tax refund fraud ledgers. 

 

        The defendants were charged with conspiracy to submit fraudulent claims to the government, access device fraud, and aggravated identity theft.  Mr. Ferrer commended the investigative efforts of the Identity Theft Tax Refund Strike Force, with special commendation to IRS-CI, the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, the Hialeah Police Department, the Broward Sheriff’s Office, and the Miami-Dade Police Department’s Special Response Team.  The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Michael N. Berger.

 

4.      United States v. Frantz Pierre, et al., Case No. 12-20696-CR-Cooke

 

        On September 21, 2012, three (3) defendants were charged in a thirteen count indictment for their participation in a stolen identity tax refund scheme that resulted in the submission of approximately $2.2 million in fraudulent refund claims.  Charged in the indictment were Frantz Pierre, 32, of Parkland, Terry Pierre, 28, and Christmanie Bissainthe, 32, all of Miami. According to the indictment, 1,000 pre-paid debit cards were sent to Frantz Pierre’s business in the name of Tax Professors, LLC.  Co-conspirators allegedly caused approximately 338 fraudulent and unauthorized tax returns to be submitted to the IRS seeking $2.2 million in refunds for payment onto the Tax Professors, LLC debit cards.  The IRS paid approximately $1.9 million in refunds in connection with these fraudulent returns.

 

        The defendants were charged with conspiracy to submit fraudulent claims to the government, access device fraud, and aggravated identity theft.  Mr. Ferrer commended the investigative efforts of the Identity Theft Tax Refund Strike Force, with special commendation to IRS-CI (Miami and St. Paul), the U.S. Secret Service, and the North Miami Beach Police Department.  The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Michael N. Berger.

 

5.      United States v. Jean Noel, et al., Case No. 12-20740-CR-Dimitrouleas

 

        On September 28, 2012, six (6) defendants were charged in a sixty-eight count indictment for their participation in a stolen identity tax refund scheme that resulted in the submission of fraudulent tax refund claims.  Charged in the indictment were Jean Noel, 33, Edy St. Jean, 38, Frandy Prophete, 33, Saul Frederick, 38, Frantz Charles, 38, and Alan Melvyn Jefferson, 54, all of Miami-Dade County, Florida.  The indictment charges that, through the conspiracy, the defendants caused the submission to the IRS of fraudulent tax returns in the names of deceased individuals in order to receive tax refunds to which they were not entitled, which refunds were later deposited into bank accounts they controlled.

 

        The defendants were charged with conspiracy to submit fraudulent claims to the government, filing false claims with the IRS, and aggravated identity theft.  Mr. Ferrer commended the investigative efforts of IRS-CI, the U.S. Secret Service, and the North Miami Beach Police Department.  The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Jose Bonau.

 

6.         United States v. Douglas Michael Young, et al., Case No. 12-20767-CR-Dimitrouleas

 

On October 5, 2011, six (6) defendants were charged in a nine count indictment for their participation in a tax refund scheme that resulted in the submission of approximately $1,207,389.00 in fraudulent claims for refunds using the personal identification information of unknowing.  Charged in the indictment were Douglas Michael Young, a/k/a “Douglas Pierre,”41, Nicole Young, a/k/a “Nicole Pierre,”a/k/a “Nicole Pierre Smith,” 42, both of Miramar, Jeffrey Andre Young,  Jr., 31, and Ernest V. Charles, 37, both of Miami, and Joseph Bshara, 27, and Siham Benabdallah, 23, both of Miami Shores, Florida.

       

According to the indictment, defendants Douglas Michael Young and his wife, Nicole Young (the Youngs), owned and operated two tax preparation companies, Supreme Tax and Young Professional Services, Inc.  The Youngs would obtain identification information from unknowing victims and use their identification information without their authorization to file fraudulent refund claims.  In furtherance of the scheme, the Youngs charged the unknowing victims a “fee” for their purported tax preparation services.  The Youngs would deduct the “fee” from any tax refunds and would deposit the “fee” into bank accounts they controlled.  The remainder of the refunds would be converted into personal checks that would be deposited into bank accounts controlled by co-defendants Ernest V. Charles, Joseph Bshara, and Siham Benabdallah.  Defendant Jeffrey Andre Young, Jr. would deliver the personal checks to Joseph Bshara and Siham Benabdallah for deposit into the bank accounts that they controlled.

 

           The indictment charges the defendants with conspiracy to steal government funds, theft of public money, and aggravated identity theft.  Mr. Ferrer commended the investigative efforts of the Identity Theft Tax Refund Strike Force, with special commendation to IRS-CI and the North Miami Beach Police Department.  The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Kurt Lunkenheimer.

 

7.      United States v. Bridgette Piedra and Jane Piedra, Case No. 12-20761-CR-Ungaro

 

On October 4, 2012, two defendants were charged in a five count indictment for their involvement in stealing two Treasury checks and an electronic refund.  Charged in the indictment were Bridgette Piedra, 27, and her sister, Jane Piedra, 29, both of Miami.  According to the indictment, on or about September 14, 2009, Bridgette and Jane Piedra stole two U.S. Treasury tax refund checks, one for $19,890.00 and the other for $8,856.00.  The indictment further charges that, on or about February 26, 2010, Jane Piedra stole an additional U.S. Treasury tax refund electronic deposit in the amount of $6,628.00.

 

        The indictment charges the defendants with theft of government funds and aggravated identity theft.  Mr. Ferrer commended the investigative efforts of the Identity Theft Tax Refund Strike Force, with special commendation to the U.S. Secret Service and IRS-CI.  The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Robert T. Watson.

 

8.      United States v. Rose Mary Steed and Demetrice Nicole Steed, Case No. 12-20773-CR-Huck

 

        On October 9, 2012, two defendants were charged in a four (4) count indictment for their participation in an identity theft tax refund scheme relating to a local health care provider.   Charged in the indictment were Rose Mary Steed, 57,and Demetrice Nicole Steed, 36, both of Miami, Florida.  According to the indictment, the defendants were employees of a local health care provider.  As part of their regular employment, the defendants had access to patient records, which they used to steal patients’ personal identification information.  Both defendants then sold the patients’ personal identification information for cash.  The patients’ personal identification information was then used by others to file fraudulent tax returns and to obtain tax refunds.

 

        The indictment charges the defendants with conspiracy to commit identity theft, unauthorized possession of personal identification information, and aggravated identity theft.  Mr. Ferrer commended the investigative efforts of the Identity Theft Tax Refund Strike Force, with special commendation to the IRS-CI and the Miami-Dade Police Department.  The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Michael B. Nadler.

 

9.       United States v. Michael Wilson, Case No.12- 60253-CR-Cohn

 

        On October 5, 2012, defendant Michael Wilson, 24, of Miramar, was charged in a five (5) count indictment for his participation in an identity theft tax refund scheme relating to a local health care provider.  According to the indictment, defendant Wilson was an employee of a local health care provider.  As part of his regular employment, Wilson had access to patient records from which he stole patients’ personal identification information.  Defendant then sold the patients’ personal identification information for cash.  The patients’ personal identifying information was then used by the defendant to file fraudulent tax returns to obtain tax refund proceeds.

 

        The indictment charges the defendant with conspiracy to submit false claims to the Internal Revenue Service, access device fraud, and aggravated identity theft.  Mr. Ferrer commended the investigative efforts of the Identity Theft Tax Refund Strike Force, with special commendation to the U.S. Secret Service and IRS-CI.  The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Michael B. Nadler.

 

10.     United States v. Johnny Alexander Melo, Case No. 12-20762-CR-Graham

 

        On October 5, 2012, defendant Johnny Alexander Melo, 36, of Miramar, was charged in a ten (10) count indictment for his participation in an identity theft tax refund scheme.  According to the indictment, defendant Melo and his co-conspirators stole personal identification information and used the stolen information to file false tax returns in the identities of at least 22 individuals.  The U.S. Treasury issued tax refund checks in the names of those individuals.  Melo then attempted to cash these fraudulently obtained tax refund checks by using false drivers’ licenses in the names of the stolen identities. 

 

        The indictment charges the defendant with conspiracy to use a false identification document, possession of five or more identification documents, theft of government funds and aggravated identity theft.  Mr. Ferrer commended the investigative efforts of the Identity Theft Tax Refund Strike Force, with special commendation to the FBI and IRS-CI.  The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Michael B. Nadler.

 

11.      United States v. Arthy Icart and Charlton Escarmant, Case No. 12-20764-CR-Lenard

 

        On October 5, 2012, two defendants were charged in a five (5) count indictment for their participation in an identity theft tax refund scheme.  Charged in the indictment were Arthy Icart, 24, and Charlton Escarmant, 28, both of Miami.  According to the indictment, the defendants used stolen personal identification information to file false tax returns to obtain tax refunds to which they were not entitled.  In addition, both defendants filed tax returns in their own names and created false W-2 forms with fictitious employer information.  The indictment also alleges that the defendants were unlawfully in possession of at least fifteen (15) Wal-Mart pre-paid tax debit cards embossed with other peoples’ names. 

 

        The indictment charges the defendants with conspiracy to submit false claims to the Internal Revenue Service, access device fraud, and aggravated identity theft.  Mr. Ferrer commended the investigative efforts of the Identity Theft Tax Refund Strike Force, with special commendation to the IRS-CI and the North Miami Beach Police Department.  The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Michael B. Nadler.

 

12.     United States v. Michlson LaRochelle, Case No. 12-14074-CR-Graham

 

        On October 4, 2012, defendant Michlson LaRochelle, 22, of Fort Pierce, was charged with stealing a U.S. Treasury check.  The indictment charges the defendant with theft of government funds.  

 

Mr. Ferrer commended the investigative efforts of the Identity Theft Tax Refund Strike Force, with special commendation to the IRS-CI and the Aventura Police Department.  The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Michael B. Nadler.

 

13.     United States v. Alexander Louis, Case No. 12-60250-CR-Williams

 

        On October 4, 2012, defendant Alexander Louis, 31, of Lauderhill, was charged in a six (6) count indictment for identity theft in connection with Louis’ possession of at least fifteen (15) social security numbers belonging to other individuals.  The indictment also charges the defendant with access device fraud and aggravated identity theft. 

 

Mr. Ferrer commended the investigative efforts of the Identity Theft Tax Refund Strike Force, with special commendation to the IRS-CI, with assistant from the U.S. Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA).  The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Michael B. Nadler.

 

14.     United States v. Vildeon Sajouse, Case No. 12-3364-MJ-Palermo

 

        On October 4, 2012, Vildeon Sajouse, 28, of Miami, was charged by criminal complaint with unlawfully transferring five or more personal identification documents.  Sajousse was attempting to purchase patients’ personal information from an employee who worked at a local health care facility to be used for filing fraudulent tax returns. 

 

Mr. Ferrer commended the investigative efforts of the Identity Theft Tax Refund Strike Force, with special commendation to the U.S. Secret Service.  The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Michael B. Nadler.

 

15.     United States v. Frantz Auguste, Case No. 12-3363-MJ-Palermo

 

        On October 4, 2012, defendant Frantz Auguste, 53, of Sunny Isles, was charged by complaint with theft of government funds and possession of at least fifteen (15) Social Security numbers belonging to other individuals.  According to the complaint, Auguste sold false identification documents, copies of false Florida drivers’ licenses, and false Social Security cards to a confidential informant.  Auguste also agreed to negotiate a U.S. Treasury tax refund check, purportedly issued to a victim of identity theft, for a 70% fee.  During the investigation, law enforcement searched Auguste’s business on October 4, 2012, and found a CD with Turbo tax software and handwritten notes containing lists with the personal identification information, including names, dates of birth, and Social Security numbers, of more than 100 individuals.  The printouts included patient information sheets that appear to have originated from a local nursing home and rehabilitation center.  Law enforcement also found multiple tax refund checks, income tax returns in different individuals’ names, and pre-paid debit cards. 

 

        Mr. Ferrer commended the investigative efforts of Identity Theft Tax Fraud Strike Force, with special commendation to IRS-CI and North Miami Beach Police Department.  The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Michael N. Berger.

 

16.      United States v. Cesar Coureaux, Case No. 12-20708-CR-Altonaga

 

        On September 25, 2012, defendant Cesar Coureaux, 35, of Hialeah, was charged in an eleven count indictment in connection with a scheme to obtain fraudulent tax return refunds. According to the indictment, the defendant filed eleven fraudulent tax returns using the personal identification information of citizens of Puerto Rico who were not required to file federal taxes.  The proceeds from the eleven fraudulent tax return refunds were direct-deposited into the defendant’s bank account.

       

        The indictment charges the defendant with theft of government funds. Mr. Ferrer commended the investigative efforts of the Identity Theft Tax Refund Strike Force, with special commendation to U.S. Secret Service and FBI.  The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Gera Peoples.

 

17.     United States v. Math Benjamin,Case No. 12-20707-CR-Cooke

 

        On September 25, 2012, defendant Math Benjamin, 33, of Miami, was charged in a five (5) count indictment for his participation in an identity theft tax refund scheme.  According to the indictment, Benjamin filed five fraudulent tax returns using the personal identification information of individuals without their permission.  Benjamin then caused the fraudulently obtained refunds to be direct-deposited into his bank account.

 

        The indictment charges the defendant with conspiracy to defraud the United States and theft of government funds.  Mr. Ferrer commended the investigative efforts of the Identity Theft Tax Refund Strike Force, with special commendation to the U.S. Secret Service.  The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Gera Peoples.

 

18.     United States v. Thierry Audren, Case No. 12-20738-CR-Williams

 

        On September 28, 2012, defendant Thierry Audren, 23, of Miami, was charged in a ten (10) count indictment in connection with a scheme to steal identities from a local health care provider.  According to the indictment, the defendant, an employee of a local health care provider, was found with at least fifteen (15) social security numbers, names and date of births belonging to patients of that health care provider.

 

        The indictment charges the defendant with access device fraud and aggravated identity theft. Mr. Ferrer commended the investigative efforts of the Identity Theft Tax Refund Strike Force, with special commendation to Miami-Dade Police Department, the City of Aventura Police Department, and IRS-CI.  The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Gera Peoples.

 

19.     United States v. Natoya Mashea Handy, Case No. 12-20771-CR-Rosenbaum

 

        On October 5, 2012, defendant Natoya Mashea Handy, 30, of Miami, was charged in a six (6) count indictment in connection with a scheme to steal identities of current and former inmates from the State of Florida Department of Corrections.  According to the indictment, the defendant was found with at least fifteen (15) social security numbers, names and date of births belonging persons who were formerly or presently incarcerated.

 

        The indictment charges the defendant with access device fraud and aggravated identity theft. Mr. Ferrer commended the investigative efforts of the Identity Theft Tax Refund Strike Force, with special commendation to the City of Aventura Police Department, the City of Miami Gardens Police Department, IRS-CI, with assistance from the GSA-Office of Inspector General.  The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Gera Peoples.

 

20.     United States v. Luis Enrique Ledee Bernard a/k/a “Luis L. Bernard,” Case No. 12-20776- CR-Moreno

 

        On October 9, 2012, defendant Luis Enrique Ledee Bernard,a/k/a “Luis L. Bernard,” 21, of Miramar, was charged in a seventeen count indictment in connection with a scheme to obtain fraudulent tax return proceeds.  According to the indictment, the defendant deposited nine (9) fraudulent tax refund checks that were fraudulently obtained by using the stolen personal identification information of at least (4) persons who were deceased.  The proceeds from the nine fraudulent tax return refunds were direct-deposited into the defendant’s bank account.

       

        The indictment charges the defendant with theft of government funds, forged endorsements and signatures on U.S. Treasury checks, and aggravated identity theft.  Mr. Ferrer commended the investigative efforts of the Identity Theft Tax Refund Strike Force, with special commendation to the U.S. Postal Inspection Service and IRS-CI.  The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Gera Peoples.

 

        In all cases, the defendants face the following possible maximum statutory terms of imprisonment if convicted:  wire fraud:  20 years’ imprisonment; conspiracy to make false claims against the United States: 10 years’ imprisonment; access device fraud: 5 to 15 years’ imprisonment; stealing government funds: 10 years’ imprisonment; and aggravated identity theft: 2 years’ consecutive to any other term of imprisonment.

 

An indictment is only an accusation and a defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.