A mailman who helped a group of crooks steal more than $390,000 in refund checks has been sentenced to three years in state prison on Friday afternoon, according to the New Jersey Attorney General’s Office.
Miguel E. Duran, 35-year-old, a city resident, helped a group of four city men, who formed an ingenuous scam to file fraudulent Gross Income Tax returns, by supplying them with vital information and misdirecting refund checks that were sent to original recipients. Duran has been ordered by Donna Gallucio, a judge in Passaic County Superior Court, to pay $29,800 in restitution, and spend three years in state prison for committing “second-degree theft by unlawful taking.”
Duran helped his co-conspirators by “supplying addresses from his mail route in Morris County to be used in filing false tax returns,” according to the attorney general’s office. After the group used false names and fake addresses to complete the tax returns, Duran, because his mail route encompassed those addresses was able to snatch the checks that were issued by the state and sometimes federal government, and hand them over to his co-conspirators for $200 a piece. Duran “intercepted the resulting government refund checks while working his mail route,” read’s a statement from the office.
One of the fraudster in the group of five worked at a bank in the city of Passaic where he cashed the check and distributed it to his friends. “Most of the state refund checks, which ranged from $1,500 to $3,676, were cashed by Caceres [one of the scam artists] at a bank branch office in Passaic where he worked, or were deposited by him into a series of accounts he opened there using stolen or fraudulent identification information,” according to the office.
Between April and August of 2007 the five men, four of them who were sentenced 2011, completed 151 federal and state tax returns, and managed to pocket $390,000. It was in August 2007, when the state’s Division of Taxation uncovered “ irregularities in the accompanying W-2 forms” and “detected an abnormal pattern involving the refund checks” that led to an investigation by the Division of Criminal Justice, which uncovered the fraud ring.
The other four men: “Wilyn Caceres, 36, and Lisaldo Ramon Espinal, 29, were each sentenced to six years in state prison on June 17, 2011. Miguel A. Hernandez, 25, was sentenced on Oct. 8, 2009 to 364 days in jail and three years of probation. Jason Perez, 28, was sentenced in 2011 to five years of probation,” according to the office.
“This was a major tax refund scam,” said Anna Milgram, then attorney general, in 2008 during the four men’s indictment. “Fortunately, auditors in the Division of Taxation detected that the refund checks were obtained by fraud and, working with the Division of Criminal Justice, traced them to the defendants.”