Lawrence Man Sentenced for Theft of Over $230,000 in Federal Tax Refund Checks

taxesBOSTON – A Lawrence man was sentenced today in connection with the theft of $230,000 in federal tax refund checks.

Wilson Santana, 41, was sentenced today to 21 months in prison to be followed by three years of supervised release. He was also ordered to pay restitution in the amount of $237,277.18 to the U.S. Department of the Treasury. Santana pleaded guilty in May 2014 to 34 counts of theft of public money.

Between November 2011 and March 2012, Santana provided Robert Montero, a bank teller at Metro Credit Union in Lawrence, with 30 U.S. Treasury checks containing fraudulently obtained tax refunds to be negotiated through various bank accounts controlled by or associated with Santana. Santana paid a fee to Montero for each check Montero negotiated. The U.S. Department of the Treasury had issued the checks based on tax returns that later were determined to contain false information. For example, although the tax returns contained biographical information of real people in Puerto Rico, their addresses were falsely listed in New York and Massachusetts. The tax returns also contained false employment information. Santana, knowing that the tax return checks had been issued based on false information, negotiated them with Montero’s help at Metro West Credit Union. The total value of the 30 refund checks was $211,214.18.

Between March and April 2012, Santana sold four more U.S. Treasury checks containing fraudulently obtained tax refunds to Montero. Unbeknownst to Santana, those transactions were monitored by federal agents. The four U.S. Treasury checks contained tax refunds in the amount of $26,227.00.

United States Attorney Carmen M. Ortiz; William P. Offord, Special Agent in Charge of the Internal Revenue Service’s Criminal Investigation in Boston; and Lisa Quinn, Special Agent in Charge of the U.S. Secret Service made the announcement today. The case is being prosecuted by Maxim Grinberg of Ortiz’s Health Care Fraud Unit.