A Merchantville man was sentenced Thursday to 36 months in prison for his role in a scheme to obtain money through fraudulently obtained refund checks issued by the U.S. Treasury, U.S. Attorney Philip R. Sellinger announced.
Federal officials said Jorge Gutierrez, 43, of Merchantville previously pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge Robert B. Kugler to an indictment charging him with conspiracy to defraud the United States.
Judge Kugler imposed the sentence Thursday in Camden federal court.
According to documents filed in this case and statements made in court:
On March 28, 2018, Gutierrez, Alberto Sanchez, Awilda Henriquez and Roque Bisono were indicted by a federal grand jury.
According to the indictment, Gutierrez, Henriquez, Bisono, Sanchez, and their conspirators obtained stolen identities of residents of Puerto Rico to file fraudulent income tax returns seeking federal tax refunds to which the conspirators were not entitled.
The objective in doing so was to falsely and fraudulently generate income tax refund checks issued by the U.S. Treasury.
The conspirators recruited mail carriers from the U.S. Postal Service as part of the scheme to steal the tax refund checks from the mail. The mail carriers were paid for every U.S Treasury check that was stolen.
The conspirators paid “check couriers” to cash the tax refund checks in a variety of ways, including at check cashing businesses in and around Camden.
The check couriers presented false and fraudulent identifications at the check cashing businesses matching the names on the tax refund checks in order to cash the checks. In total, the scheme caused $565,091 in losses to the U.S. Treasury.
Gutierrez admitted that between April 2014 and August 2014, he was a member of the conspiracy that took 93 U.S. Treasury Refund checks that had been placed in the mail stream to be delivered to addresses on a postal mail route in Pennsauken.
He admitted that he helped a man nicknamed “Chepe” steal money from the United States government.
In addition to the prison term, Judge Kugler sentenced Gutierrez to three years of supervised release and ordered restitution of $565,091.
Henriquez was previously convicted at trial and is scheduled to be sentenced on Aug. 29, 2022. Sanchez previously pleaded guilty and was sentenced to 45 months in prison. Bisono previously pleaded guilty and was sentenced to time served.