July 18, 2017
Contact: Timothy P. McMahon
Phone Number: (973) 776-1100
Florida Man Gets 17 Months In Prison For Role In $65 Million Stolen Identity Income Tax Refund Scheme
NEWARK, N.J. - A Miami man was sentenced today to 17 months in prison for depositing over $4.7 million in fraudulently obtained tax refund checks as part of a massive stolen identity income tax scheme, Acting U.S. Attorney William E. Fitzpatrick announced.
Roberto Diaz, 48, formerly of Demarest, New Jersey, previously pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge Claire C. Cecchi to an information charging him with one count of conspiracy to commit theft of government funds, one count of theft of government funds, and one count of aggravated identity theft. Judge Cecchi imposed the sentence today in Newark federal court. In addition to the prison term, Judge Cecchi sentenced Diaz to three years of supervised release and ordered him to pay restitution of $4,773,043.43.
Members of the conspiracy obtained personal identifiers, such as dates of birth and Social Security numbers, belonging to Puerto Rican citizens. Afterwards, they completed Individual Income Tax Return 1040 Forms using the fraudulently obtained information and made it appear that the “taxpayers” listed on the fraudulent returns were entitled to refunds. They also directed the U.S. Treasury Department to issue refunds to locations they could control or access in various ways.
At his plea hearing, Diaz admitted that he received fraudulently obtained refund checks and deposited them into banks accounts he controlled or were in the names of his associates or their companies. Diaz also admitted that he and others conspired to bribe a mail carrier to intercept refund checks before they were delivered to the people who had their identity stolen as part of the scheme.
Diaz admitted that during the course of the conspiracy, he was responsible for depositing or causing the deposit of over $4.7 million in fraudulently obtained tax refund checks.
Diaz was previously charged in September 2012 along with 13 other defendants in multiple, separate criminal complaints. The $65 million scheme involved more than 8,000 fraudulent income tax returns and losses to the United States of over $12 million.
Acting U.S. Attorney Fitzpatrick credited special agents of IRS-Criminal Investigation, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Jonathan D. Larsen; postal inspectors of the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, under the direction of Inspector in Charge James V. Buthorn; special agents of the U.S. Secret Service, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Mark Mckevitt; special agents of the Drug Enforcement Administration, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Carl J. Kotowski, and special agents of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Homeland Security Investigations, under the direction of Acting Special Agent in Charge Brian A. Michael, with the investigation.