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US: Dominican national pleads guilty to identity theft and fraud

By NELSON A. KING From Caribbean Life

The United States Department of Justice (DOJ) says a Dominican Republic national who lived in Lawrence, Mass., has been sentenced to 11 years in prison after pleading guilty in the middle of his trial in connection with stolen identity refund fraud.

The Justice Department said on Thursday that Furvio Flete-Garcia, 45, also pleaded guilty the day before to conspiring to defraud the Internal Revenue Service, access device fraud, theft of government property, aggravated identity theft and money laundering.

According to evidence presented at the trial, from 2008 through 2015, Flete-Garcia obtained the personal identification information of Puerto Rico residents and, without their knowledge or consent, paid others to prepare and file tax returns with the IRS in their names.

These returns listed fake income and tax withholdings and sought fraudulent refunds, the Justice Department said.

It said Flete-Garcia would pick up the tax refund checks from addresses he controlled and cashed them with co-conspirators for a percentage of their face value.

In total, the Justice Department officials said, he negotiated over $7 million in fraudulent refund checks at two different check cashing businesses in Lawrence.

An additional $5 million of refunds was claimed on fraudulent income tax returns presented to the IRS from 2011 to 2015 using the identities of Puerto Rican residents whose identities were on lists obtained from Flete-Garcia and presented at trial, the Justice Department said.

In addition to the term of prison imposed, the Justice Department said United States District Court Judge Leo T. Sorokin ordered Flete-Garcia to pay $7,737,486 in restitution to the IRS.

The Justice Department said Flete-Garcia was previously sentenced in April 2016 to 28 months in prison for illegal re-entry into the United States, misuse of a social security number and aggravated identity theft.

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