December 20, 2006
Peter Aseltine, AG's Office (609) 292-4791
THREE ARRESTED FOR ALLEGEDLY STEALING MORE THAN $800,000 FROM STATE OF NEW JERSEY BY FILING FRAUDULENT TAX RETURNS
TRENTON - Attorney General Stuart Rabner and Division of Criminal Justice Director Gregory A. Paw announced that three people were arrested yesterday and charged with theft by deception for allegedly stealing $827,000 by filing fraudulent state tax returns.
According to Director Paw, the following individuals were arrested early yesterday morning, when investigators from the Division of Criminal Justice and the New Jersey Division of Taxation, assisted by officers from the Lyndhurst Police Department, executed a search warrant at an apartment on Second Avenue in Lyndhurst :
Rosa Victoria Rivera, a.k.a, Vicky Rocsana Rivera-Peralta, 39, who lives in the apartment where the search warrant was executed;
Each of the three arrested individuals was charged with second-degree theft by deception and is being held at the Mercer County Jail in lieu of $1 million bail, Paw said. The arrests were the result of a joint investigation by the Division of Taxation and the Division of Criminal Justice.
An audit by the Division of Taxation identified 540 fraudulent tax returns for which refund checks were issued between Feb. 6, 2004 and July 11, 2006 . The returns contained similar taxpayer information, such as similar names, common addresses and common employers. About 400 of the returns were filed electronically and the remainder were filed with paper. Of the 540 refund checks, 276 checks, totaling $826,974 were deposited in bank accounts. The Division of Taxation was able to stop payment on the remaining 264 checks, totaling $1,005,030.
"This is one of the biggest tax refund frauds in state history," said Attorney General Rabner. "These defendants allegedly were so prolific in their fraudulent tax filings that their greed caught up with them. The Division of Taxation, working in partnership with the Division of Criminal Justice, identified hundreds of tax returns containing similar elements of false taxpayer information."
"This is an example of our efforts to be vigilant when it comes to enforcing our tax laws," said Maureen Adams, the acting director of the Division of Taxation. "We will continue to do all that we can to ensure that taxpayers file appropriately and that refunds are delivered only to those who legitimately are entitled to receive them."
Nearly $200,000 in cash and a computer were seized at the apartment, along with blank Social Security cards, tax forms and W-2 forms. Several bank accounts of the defendants containing a smaller amount of money were seized, and a second search warrant was executed at a self-storage site leased by the defendants in Belleville , where additional records were confiscated.
"Investigators worked diligently to identify and assemble the many pieces of this puzzle, leading to the execution of arrest and search warrants," said Director Paw. "We will continue to investigate this type of fraud and will prosecute those responsible to the full extent of the law."
Second-degree crimes carry a maximum sentence of 10 years in state prison and a criminal fine of $150,000. The investigation will be presented to a state grand jury for potential indictment. The charges are merely accusations and the defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty.
The investigation was led by Auditor Thaedra Chebra of the Division of Taxation - Office of Criminal Investigation and State Investigator Noelle Holl of the Division of Criminal Justice - Major Financial Crimes Bureau. The case is being handled for the Attorney General by Deputy Attorney General Denise Grugan and Supervising Deputy Attorney General Terrence Hull, head of the Division of Criminal Justice - Major Financial Crimes Bureau.