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Salem man pleads guilty to small business loan fraud and filing fraudulent tax returns | USAO-MA

BOSTON — A Salem man pleaded guilty today in federal court in Boston to two fraud schemes involving COVID-19 relief funds and tax returns for others.

Roosevelt Fernandez, 42, pleaded guilty to two counts of wire fraud and one count of aggravated impersonation. U.S. District Court Judge Richard Stearns scheduled sentencing for May 11, 2022. Fernandez was indicted 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 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 of Soluciones Multi Service, an entity he controlled, and submitted a false tax return in support of the application. As a result, the SBA deposited $124,900 into a bank account controlled by Fernandez from which he withdrew more than $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 filing information. As a result, the SBA deposited $149,900 into the same bank account.

Additionally, Fernandez used the identities of various people to submit fraudulent federal and state tax returns. A number of these returns included fraudulent W-2 forms allegedly issued by employers for whom the named taxpayer did not in fact work. Various fraudulent refunds were deposited into an account in the name of Soluciones Multi Service. Additionally, a fraudulent economic income payment from May 2020 – recovery authorized by the CARES Act – was deposited into this same account. Fernandez was pictured in ATM surveillance footage depositing another fraudulent tax refund check into that account. Overall, the investigation revealed approximately 40 fraudulent tax returns associated with Fernandez, totaling more than $620,000 in requested refunds.

The wire fraud charges carry a sentence of up to 20 years in prison, up to three years of probation and a fine of up to $250,000. The aggravated identity theft charge carries a mandatory sentence of two years in prison, up to a year of supervised release and a fine of up to $250,000. Sentences are imposed by a federal district court judge based on US sentencing guidelines and other statutory factors.

Acting United States Attorney Nathaniel R. Mendell and Joleen D. Simpson, Special Agent in Charge of the Internal Revenue Service-Criminal Investigation Division for the Boston Field Office, made the announcement today. The United States Postal Inspection Service and the Massachusetts Department of Revenue provided valuable assistance in the investigation. Assistant U.S. Attorney Bill Abely, head of Mendell’s criminal division, is prosecuting the case.

On May 17, 2021, the Attorney General established the COVID-19 Fraud Enforcement Task Force to mobilize Department of Justice resources in partnership with government agencies to scale up enforcement and prevention efforts. pandemic-related fraud. The task force strengthens efforts to investigate and prosecute the most culpable domestic and international criminal actors and assists agencies administering relief programs to prevent fraud, among other methods, by increasing and integrating coordination mechanisms existing ones, identifying resources and techniques to uncover fraudulent actors and their agendas, and sharing and leveraging information and knowledge gained from previous enforcement efforts. For more information about the Department’s response to the pandemic, please visit https://www.justice.gov/coronavirus.

Anyone with information about alleged attempted fraud involving COVID-19 can report it by calling the Department of Justice’s National Center for Disaster Fraud (NCDF) hotline at 866-720-5721 or via NCDF’s online complaint form at: https://www. .justice.gov/disaster-fraud/ncdf-disaster-complaint-form.