Illegal Dominican worker sentenced in plot to defraud IRS of $1.2M
An undocumented worker from the Dominican Republic who schemed with his girlfriend, a former postal carrier and another man to defraud the IRS of more than $1.2 million was sentenced yesterday to 4 1/2 years in federal prison and ordered to make restitution of $97,748.
Authorities said the worker, Angel Collazo, 25, and then-girlfriend Aphleen Quinonez filed 288 false returns between January 2007 and December 2008, but the loss to the government was less than $98,000 because the IRS caught on to the scheme.
Court papers said Collazo, Quinonez and an accomplice, Antonio Rodriguez-Rivera, illegally obtained personal information belonging to residents of Puerto Rico.
Collazo and Quinonez prepared bogus tax returns to make claims for tax refunds, authorities said, and also made up phony W-2 forms. Collazo and Quinonez then filed and mailed the returns and W-2s to the IRS, Assistant U.S. Attorney Ashley Lunkenheimer said.
Defense attorney Andres Jalon said Collazo did not prepare the returns or have principal control of the scheme.
Collazo pleaded guilty to conspiracy to defraud the government, possession of fraudulent immigration and illegal identification documents and aggravated identity theft last November.
The phony returns had addresses provided by postal carrier Tyree Harrell. Harrell, who pleaded guilty in 2009 to conspiracy to defraud the government and theft of mail, gave addresses on his mail route to Rodriguez-Rivera, who gave them to Collazo and Quinonez.
Harrell was sentenced in June to a year and a day, and ordered to make restitution of more than $41,000 and to never again work for the Postal Service.
Rodriguez-Rivera pleaded guilty in 2009 to conspiracy to defraud the government and to drug and gun offenses. He is to be sentenced in February.
Quinonez has been on the lam since her indictment in 2008.
Authorities said that after the false returns and W-2s were filed, Collazo, Quinonez and Rodriguez-Rivera used software to track mailings of any tax refund related to a false return.
When a refund was mailed, Harrell was contacted and told the address where the refund would be sent, authorities said.
Harrell then intercepted it and gave it to Rodriguez-Rivera, who paid him $300 per refund, officials said. Rodriguez-Rivera then delivered refund checks to Collazo or Quinonez, who cashed them and paid Rodriguez-Rivera a portion of the money, authorities said.
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