DETROIT, MI – Juan Carlos Pena-Lora, 32-years-old, of Detroit, was sentenced to 52 months in prison for negotiating over 2,000 U.S. Treasury income tax refund checks generated from false income tax returns.
Imposing the sentenced was U.S. District Judge Sean F. Cox. In addition to the prison time, Judge Cox ordered Pena-Lora to pay $14,286,166.46 in restitution.
According to court records, from 2011 through 2012, Pena-Lora negotiated over 2,000 U.S. Treasury income tax refund checks in the Eastern District of Michigan. As Pena-Lora was well aware, the Treasury checks had been generated through the filing of fraudulent tax returns claiming refunds filed in the names and using the social security numbers of Puerto Rican nationals, but using residential addresses in the United States.
Pena-Lora cashed the Treasury tax refund checks at local check cashing stores in the city of Detroit, which Pena-Lora knew were proceeds of illegal activity specifically, Theft of Public Money. Although Pena-Lora is pleading guilty to one count of the indictment, he acknowledges that he was involved in criminal activity which generated losses in the sentencing guideline range of more than $9.5 million.
“The defendant committed crimes of greed by stealing from honest taxpayers,” United States Attorney Matthew Schneider said. “This sentence is a warning to others who would consider committing similar crimes.”
“Pena-Lora bilked the U.S. Treasury and taxpayers out of millions of dollars and because of his actions; he’s going to prison,” said Special Agent in Charge Manny Muriel of IRS Criminal Investigation, adding “IRS CI will continue to devote resources to pursue those who attempt to exploit the tax system.”