A New York City postal worker has been found guilty of participating in a massive tax and mail-theft scheme involving Postal Service letter carriers and co-conspirators in the Dominican Republic. A U.S. District Court jury found Robert A. Warren guilty following a one-week trial.
Prosecutors said Warren and his accomplices fraudulently generated millions of dollars in federal tax refund checks, then stole the checks from the U.S. mail.
According to evidence presented at the trial, co-conspirators operating out of the Dominican Republic electronically filed thousands of fraudulent federal tax returns, seeking tens of millions of dollars in tax refund checks.
The fraudulent returns were filed using Social Security numbers and other identifying information stolen from residents of the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico. Participants in the scheme targeted Social Security numbers assigned to residents of Puerto Rico because they are generally not required to file federal tax returns with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), so long as their income derives solely from Puerto Rican sources.
Each of the tax returns at issue falsely represented that the taxpayer on the return resided at an address in the Bronx, where the refund check requested in the return would be sent. The checks were then collected by mail carriers assigned to the mail routes where the checks were sent. The mail carriers participating in the scheme were paid a kickback for each check they collected.
The carriers passed the checks on to other co-conspirators, who cashed them at various banks and check-cashing businesses located in the United States and the Dominican Republic.
Warren has been a mail carrier employed by the U.S. Postal Service at Tremont Post Office in the Bronx. He was recruited into the tax scheme in 2007, prosecutors said. From July 2007 until May 2008, Warren collected at least 256 fraudulent refund checks that were sent to his mail route as part of the scheme. He was paid a $100 kickback for each check that he stole. Each check was worth, on average, close to $10,000.
In all, Warren helped steal over $2.5 million worth of fraudulent tax refund checks, according to evidence presented at the trial. He made at least $25,000 in kickbacks from the scheme.
Warren, 46, of the Bronx, New York, is scheduled to be sentenced by Judge Denny Chin on September 13, 2011, at 10 a.m. He faces a maximum term of 20 years in prison.
In this way, the fraudsters minimized the risk that legitimate federal tax returns were already filed by the owners of the Social Security numbers they were using in the scheme.