Salem Man Pleads Guilty to Small Business Loan Fraud and Fraudulent Tax Filing | USAO-MA
BOSTON – A man from Salem pleaded guilty today in federal court in Boston to two fraud schemes involving COVID-19 relief funds and tax returns for other people.
Roosevelt Fernandez, 42, pleaded guilty to two counts of wire fraud and one count of aggravated identity theft. U.S. District Court Judge Richard Stearns set the sentence for May 11, 2022. Fernandez was charged in December 2020.
Fernandez applied for 10 Economic Disaster Loans (EIDLs) from the United States Small Business Administration (SBA), either on his own behalf or on behalf of the entities he controlled. EIDL funds were available to eligible individuals and businesses under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act (CARES Act). In June 2020, Fernandez applied for an EIDL under the name Soluciones Multi Service, an entity he controlled, and submitted a false tax return in support of the request. As a result, the SBA deposited $ 124,900 into a bank account controlled by Fernandez from which it withdrew over $ 80,000 in cash over the next two weeks. In August 2020, Fernandez applied for an EIDL on behalf of another company using fraudulent tax information. As a result, the SBA deposited $ 149,900 in the same bank account.
Additionally, Fernandez used the identities of various individuals to submit fraudulent tax returns at the state and federal level. A number of these returns included fraudulent W-2 forms purportedly issued by employers for which the named taxpayer was not in fact working. Various fraudulent refunds have been deposited into an account in the name of Soluciones Multi Service. In addition, a fraudulent May 2020 economic income payment – a stimulus allowed by the CARES Act – was deposited into this same account. Fernandez was pictured in surveillance footage of the ATM depositing another fraudulent tax refund check into this account. Overall, the investigation uncovered approximately 40 fraudulent tax returns associated with Fernandez, totaling over $ 620,000 in requested refunds.
The wire fraud charges carry a sentence of up to 20 years in prison, up to three years of supervised release and a fine of up to $ 250,000. The aggravated identity theft charge carries a mandatory sentence of two years in prison, up to one year of supervised release and a fine of up to $ 250,000. Sentences are imposed by a judge in a federal district court based on US sentencing guidelines and other statutory factors.
Acting US attorney Nathaniel R. Mendell and Joleen D. Simpson, special agent in charge of the Internal Revenue Service-Criminal Investigations Division for the local Boston office, made the announcement today. The United States Postal Inspection Service and the Massachusetts Department of Revenue provided invaluable assistance in the investigation. Assistant U.S. Attorney Bill Abely, head of Mendell’s Criminal Division, is pursuing the case.
On May 17, 2021, the Attorney General created the COVID-19 Fraud Enforcement Working Group to mobilize the resources of the Department of Justice in partnership with government agencies to strengthen efforts to combat and prevent the pandemic fraud. The Working Group strengthens efforts to investigate and prosecute the most culpable national and international criminal actors and assists agencies tasked with administering relief programs to prevent fraud, among other methods, by scaling up and integrating mechanisms coordination, identifying resources and techniques for uncovering fraudulent actors and their programs, and sharing and leveraging information and knowledge gained from previous enforcement efforts. For more information on the Department’s response to the pandemic, please visit https://www.justice.gov/coronavirus.
Anyone with information about allegations of attempted fraud involving COVID-19 can report it by calling the Department of Justice’s National Center for Disaster Fraud Enforcement (NCDF) hotline at 866-720 -5721 or via the NCDF online complaint form at: https: // www. .justice.gov / disaster-fraud / ncdf-disaster-complaint-form.