CA: Man who misused Puerto Ricans’ IDs for tax fraud sentenced

A Downey man who was part of a scheme that fraudulently sought more than $5 million in tax refunds from the Internal Revenue Service by filing federal tax returns in the names of residents of Puerto Rico has been sentenced to 57 months in federal prison.

Luis Rodriguez Ortega, 35, who used the name “Miguel Valedon” and claims to be a Mexican national, was sentenced on Monday by United States District Judge Gary A. Feess. In addition to the prison term, Judge Feess ordered Ortega to pay more than $780,000 in restitution to the United States Treasury.

Ortega pleaded guilty in April to three counts of filing false claims with the United States and one count of using a false identification document for his role in a scheme that caused the IRS to suffer actual losses of approximately $800,000. As part of the scheme, Ortega and his associates used the names and social security numbers of residents of Puerto Rico to file more than 1,000 false federal income tax returns that sought tax refunds based on the earned income credit. Using bogus out-of-state drivers licenses, Ortega and his associates opened private mail boxes, listed the legitimate taxpayers as authorized mail recipients, and asked the IRS to send the fraudulent tax refund checks to the private mail boxes.

In imposing the 57-month sentence, Judge Feess noted the seriousness of the offenses, the amount of intended loss, and the sophistication of the scheme, which involved filing tax returns in both California and Illinois. The court also noted that it did not have a good sense of the defendant’s true identity, because Ortega, who claimed to have used the name of Miguel Valedon for most of his life, did not admit his true name until the date he pleaded guilty.

Source: U.S. Attorney’s Office, Central District of California

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