Six men from Long Island were accused of using stolen Social Security numbers to file thousands of false income tax returns worth up to $73 million, according to the United States Attorney's Office.
Luis Aquino, also known as “The Doctor,” of Freeport; Johans Cabrera, also known as “Life,” of Copiague; Randy Fernandez, of Copiague; Michael Figat, of Shirley; Ancelmo Rodriguez, of Copiague; and Carlos Soto, of Massapequa were all charged in three separate indictments.
According to a release from the Attorney's Office, the accused exploited tax laws that excuse Puerto Rican citizens from having to file federal income tax returns as long as they make their income within the island's boundaries. The accused illegally obtained identification information for Puerto Rican citizens, including names, birthdays and Social Security numbers, and filed large claim refunds with the IRS.
After filing the claims, the accused allegedly bribed Postal Office workers to intercept the refund checks mailed and later cashed the checks at check-cashing services. The three cases combined included over 11,000 false income tax returns.
Currently, only Rodriguez and Cabrera remain at large.
“The integrity of a federal employee cannot be bought or sold," said United States Postal Service Inspector General Special Agent-in-Charge Rafael Medina. "Our office aggressively investigates allegations of public corruption, and any postal employee who misuse their position of trust for personal gain should understand that the they will be arrested.”
In one of the cases, United States v. Michael Figat, Figat allegedly filed over 3,700 false tax returns seeking refunds of nearly $26.5 million. Checks that were mailed in this scheme were sent to addresses in Shirley, Patchogue, Lindenhurst and West Babylon. According to the release, Figat bribed several USPS employees to remove the checks from the mailboxes they were originally sent to.
Figat faces up to 107 years in prison if convicted.
Another case, involving Fernandez, Rodriguez and Soto, also used addresses in Amityville, Brentwood, Central Islip, Copiague, Lindenhurst and Wyandanch to complete their scheme to seek refunds totaling nearly $12 million. The three are also charged with bribing an employee of a check-cashing service to cash several of the refund checks.
The three men could each face a maximum sentence of 25 years in prison if convicted.
Aquino, Fernandez and Soto were arraigned on Thursday afternoon at the U.S. Courthouse in Central Islip. Figat will be arraigned at the courthouse in Central Islip on December 27th.