A North Miami check casher was sentenced to more than 17 years in prison, after having been convicted by a federal jury, for cashing over $11 million in fraudulent tax refund checks obtained from the filing of stolen identities.
Wifredo A. Ferrer, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Florida, Kelly R. Jackson, Special Agent in Charge, Internal Revenue Service, Criminal Investigation (IRS-CI), and Mark Selby, Special Agent in Charge, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations (ICE-HSI), made the announcement.
Junior Jean Baptiste, 36 of North Miami, Florida, was convicted on charges of conspiracy to commit money laundering, money laundering, possession of five or more false identification documents, theft of government money, and aggravated identity theft. Baptiste was sentenced to a total of 212 months’ imprisonment, to be followed by three years of supervised release, by United States District Judge Jose E. Martinez.
According to the evidence presented in court, from 2009 to 2011, the defendant operated a check cashing store called Surveillance Masters LLC in North Miami, Florida. During this period, trial evidence demonstrated that the defendant knowingly cashed over $11 million from over 2,000 fraudulent tax refund checks that had been issued in the names of dead people, disabled people, and other people who do not typically file tax returns. Furthermore, trial evidence showed that the defendant typically took a fee of half of the value of the checks and made false identification documents for his files. Trial evidence demonstrated that, in connection with the cashing of these fraudulent checks, the defendant possessed over 900 false driver’s licenses, work permits, and green cards.
Finally, the evidence at trial showed that the defendant used the fraudulently obtained funds for, among other things, a cargo ship, multiple vehicles, and rights to an album of a prominent hip-hop artist.
Mr. Ferrer commended the investigative efforts of IRS-CI and ICE-HSI. This was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Michael N. Berger and Michael B. Nadler.
A copy of this press release may be found on the website of the United States Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Florida at www.usdoj.gov/usao/fls. Related court documents and information may be found on the website of the District Court for the Southern District of Florida at www.flsd.uscourts.govor on http://pacer.flsd.uscourts.gov.