Wifredo A. Ferrer, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Florida; Jose A. Gonzalez, Special Agent in Charge, Internal Revenue Service-Criminal Investigation (IRS-CI); Michael B. Steinbach, Special Agent in Charge, Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Miami Field Office; and Paula Reid, Special Agent in Charge, United States Secret Service (USSS), Miami Field Office, announced the unsealing of a 43-count indictment charging defendants 11 South Florida residents with stolen identity tax refund fraud. Charged in the indictment are Henry Dorvil, aka “D,” 35, of Hollywood; Herve Wilmore Jr., 29, of Aventura; Dukens Eleazard, aka “DK,” 33, of Pembroke Pines; Marie Eleazard, aka “Fanfan,” 32, of Miami; Jesse Lamar Harrell, 26, of Miramar; Luckner St Fleur, aka “Nene,” 32, of Miami; Ruth Cartwright, aka “Princess,” 30, formerly of Plantation; Miguel Patterson, 35, of Miami; Brandon Johnson, 29, of Miami Gardens; John Similien, 24, of Plantation; and Marc Leroy Saint Juste, 26, of Tamarac. Defendants Dorvil, Harrell, Patterson, Johnson, and Saint Juste made their initial appearances in federal court before U.S. Magistrate Judge Lurana S. Snow in Fort Lauderdale at 1:00 p.m. today. Defendant Cartwright was arrested in the Northern District of Georgia and will make her initial appearance there. Defendants Wilmore, both Eleazards, St Fleur, and Similien remain at large.
Specifically, each defendant is charged with one count of conspiring to defraud the Internal Revenue Service, commit wire fraud, and commit aggravated identity theft, all in violation of Title 18, U.S.C. § 371; as well as two counts of wire fraud, in violation of Title 18, U.S.C., §§ 1343 and 2. In addition, defendants Dorvil, Wilmore, Dukens Eleazard, Marie Eleazard, Harrell, St Fleur, Cartwright, Patterson, Johnson, and Similien are charged with two counts of aggravated identity theft, in violation of Title 18, U.S.C. §§ 1028A(a)(1) and 2. The indictment also seeks the forfeiture of $443,449.07 seized from a bank account; a 2011 Cadillac Escalade EXT Premium Sport and 2010 Nissan Maxima registered to defendant Dukens Eleazard; a 2011 Infiniti M37 registered to defendant Marie Eleazard; and a 2010 Porsche purchased by defendant Wilmore.
According to the indictment, the defendants recruited knowing participants and unknowing victims to put businesses, bank accounts, and Electronic Filing Identification Numbers (EFINs) in the defendants’ names. The defendants used this information to execute their fraud scheme, including tax refund fraud. The defendants also used the personal identification information of real people, including some deceased, to file false income tax returns with the IRS. In this way, the defendants received IRS refund checks [U.S. Treasury checks and Refund Anticipation Loan (RAL) checks] at addresses and bank accounts that they controlled. To avoid having the fraud discovered, the defendants negotiated the fraudulently obtained income tax refund checks at each other’s businesses.
According to the indictment, from about January 2009 through March 2012, the defendants filed with the IRS approximately 6,961 federal income tax returns, requesting refunds totaling approximately $34,096,321. Of the 6,961 field tax returns, 2,763 used the identities of deceased individuals.
U.S. Attorney Wifredo A. Ferrer, “Stolen identity refund fraud is spreading in South Florida like an out of control wildfire. Two days ago, we announced charges against 14 individuals in six separate cases on charges of stolen identity refund fraud. Today, in just one case, we are charging another 11 individuals who used stolen identities, including that of almost 3,000 deceased persons, to file fraudulent returns seeking close to $35 million in tax refunds. My office, in conjunction with the members of the South Florida Identity Theft Tax Fraud Strike Force, will continue to prosecute these thieves, not just to punish them, but also to deter others from thinking they can get away with stealing honest taxpayers’ hard-earned refunds.”
Special Agent in Charge Jose A. Gonzalez stated, “These defendants conspired to use the personal identification information of taxpayers, including deceased individuals, to file false income tax returns with the IRS. These actions not only pose a serious problem for taxpayers but adversely affect the integrity of our tax system. Together with our law enforcement partners, we will continue to remain vigilant in identifying, investigating, and prosecuting those individuals who seek to willfully defraud the United States Treasury and have a blatant disregard for the victims of their schemes.”
“Unfortunately, this is another example of the rapidly growing wave of stolen identity tax refund fraud,” said Xanthie C. Mangum, Acting Special Agent in Charge of FBI Miami Division. “The FBI continues to actively target these fraudsters who seek illicit gains by victimizing hard-working taxpayers.”
Secret Service Special Agent in Charge Paula Reid stated, “The existence of identity theft in the South Florida region is an unfortunate criminal epidemic. At any time, anyone is subject to being a victim. The investigative efforts of the law enforcement community must remain strong and unwavering as the offenders’ continuous success and harm with this stealthy crime cannot prevail.”
If convicted, the defendants face a possible maximum statutory sentence of five years in prison for the conspiracy count, 20 years in prison for each count of wire fraud and two years consecutive in prison for each count of aggravated identity theft.