Crime Watch: September 6, 2013

Alabama Man Pleads Guilty to Cashing Fraudulent Tax Refund Checks
 
David Haigler, of Montgomery County, Alabama, pleaded guilty in US District Court for the Middle District of Alabama September 5, 2013, to one count of theft of public funds and to one count of passing US Treasury checks with forged endorsements, the Justice Department, the IRS, and US Secret Service announced.
 
According to court documents, between November 2011 and July 2012, Haigler obtained 263 fraudulent US Treasury refund checks and refund anticipation loan checks totaling $606,781.34. The refund checks were in the names of different individuals who had not authorized Haigler to cash them. Haigler cashed the refund checks at a store in Millbrook, Alabama, by providing the store with copies of fictitious powers of attorney in the names of the individuals on the checks.
 
For his involvement in the scheme, Haigler faces a maximum potential sentence of twenty years in jail and a fine of up to $500,000.
 
Source: US Department of Justice
 
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Nevada Man Indicted for Multimillion-Dollar Nationwide Fraud Scheme
 
The Justice Department and the IRS announced that an indictment was unsealed in Las Vegas charging Anton Paul Drago, formerly known as Evan Joseph Fogarty, a resident of Las Vegas, with conspiracy to commit wire fraud, wire fraud, attempting to pass a fictitious obligation, false claims for veteran's benefits, theft of public funds, failing to file a federal income tax return, and making false statements to a federal agent. The indictment was returned by a grand jury on August 28, 2013, and was unsealed August 29 after Drago's initial appearance following arrest.
 
According to the indictment, Drago and Joseph Rizzuti, an unindicted coconspirator who owned and operated an accounting and bookkeeping business in Florida, solicited investors by falsely representing that investment monies would be used for legal fees and business expenses to fund the production, refinement, and shipping of oil from Nigeria to the Bahamas. In fact, Drago used the investment monies for personal expenses.
 
The indictment further alleges that Drago falsely claimed unemployability compensation benefits from the US Department of Veterans Affairs and of stealing benefits to which he was not entitled. The indictment also alleges that Drago attempted to pass a fictitious financial instrument purportedly worth $10,000,000 at a bank, failed to file a 2007 federal income tax return, and made a false statement to federal law enforcement agents by telling them that he did not profit from monies received from investors and that every penny he received from investors went to the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation.
 
If convicted, Drago faces a potential maximum potential sentence of twenty years in prison for the conspiracy to commit wire fraud count; twenty years in prison for each of the two wire fraud counts; five years in prison for each of the three false claims counts; ten years in prison for the theft of public funds count; twenty-five years in prison for the fictitious obligation count; five years in prison for the false statement count; and one year in prison for the failure to file a federal income tax return count. He is also subject to fines and mandatory restitution if convicted.
 
Source: US Department of Justice
 
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Miami-Dade Man Charged in $13 Million Stolen Identity Tax Refund Scheme Involving Fraudulent Florida Lottery Claims
 
The US Attorney for the Southern District of Florida, the IRS, and the US Postal Inspection Service (USPIS) announced September 3, 2013, the indictment of Orlando Cairo, Jr., of Miami, on filing fraudulent income tax returns with the IRS and claiming refunds based on fraudulently claimed income and withholding paid by the State of Florida, Department of the Lottery (Florida Lottery). Defendant Cairo had his initial appearance September 3 in federal court in West Palm Beach.
 
The indictment charges Cairo with one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud, eight counts of wire fraud, seven counts of aggravated identity theft, three counts of alteration of a treasury check, and one count of destruction of records.
 
According to the previously filed complaint and the indictment, Cairo obtained the means of identification of individuals, including their names, dates of birth, and Social Security numbers. He used these identifications to electronically file IRS income tax returns which claimed fraudulent gambling winnings from and withholdings by the Florida Lottery. From January 2012 through July 12, 2012, Cairo filed and caused to be filed with the IRS approximately 624 fraudulent tax returns seeking refunds of over $13,000,000.
 
In addition, the indictment alleges that Cairo altered three US Treasury tax refund checks in the amounts of $412.90, $25.70, and $406.99, to increase the amounts of the checks to $88,412.90, $88,525.70, and $88,406.99, respectively.
 
If convicted, Cairo faces a possible maximum statutory sentence of twenty years in prison for each count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud, wire fraud, altering a treasury check, and destruction of records, and two years of consecutive imprisonment for each count of aggravated identity theft.
 
Source: US Attorney's Office - Florida 
 
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Alabama Woman Sentenced to Jail for Role in Identity Theft Tax Scheme
 
Angelique Djonret of Montgomery, Alabama, was sentenced September 3, 2013, to serve two years in prison for her involvement in a million-dollar identity theft tax fraud scheme, announced the Justice Department's Tax Division and the US Attorney for the Middle District of Alabama. Djonret pleaded guilty to identity theft on April 19, 2013.
 
According to court documents, between October 2009 and April 2012, Djonret's sister, Antoinette Djonret, orchestrated a tax refund scheme using stolen identities to file over 1,000 false tax returns that fraudulently claimed over $1.7 million in tax refunds. 
 
Antoinette Djonret obtained stolen identities from multiple sources, including Alabama state databases. She also established an elaborate network for laundering the refund money. Antoinette Djonret recruited her sister, Angelique, into the conspiracy, whose role was to obtain prepaid debit cards in her name and others' names for purposes of receiving the fraudulent tax refunds.
 
Antoinette Djonret and her coconspirators used the cards to obtain the refund proceeds. Angelique Djonret also assisted in the filing of false tax returns using stolen identities. Antoinette Djonret was previously sentenced to twelve years in prison.
 
Source: US Department of Justice
 
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Federal Court Permanently Bars Texas Tax Preparer from Preparing Tax Returns for Others
 
The Justice Department announced September 4, 2013, that a federal court has permanently barred Nina Thompson Price from preparing federal tax returns for others. The civil injunction order, to which Thompson Price consented, was signed September 3, 2013, by Judge Nancy F. Atlas of the US District Court for the Southern District of Texas.
 
In the consent order, Thompson Price agreed that she, individually, and doing business as N.M. & T. Tax Service, prepared over 1,500 federal tax returns for customers during tax years 2009, 2010, and 2011 claiming false and exaggerated Schedule C business deductions and education credits as well as other deductions to understate her clients' tax liabilities and overstate their tax refunds. The complaint alleges the United States suffered a total harm exceeding $100,000.
 
Source: US Department of Justice
 

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