A Bronx man on Thursday admitted in federal court to costing the government more than $2.89 million in losses through a phony tax return scheme that relied on stolen identities.
Yerfri Castillo, 26, pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge John Michael Vasquez in Newark to one count each of conspiracy to steal government funds, theft of government funds and aggravated identity theft, according to the office of U.S. Attorney Paul Fishman.
Prosecutors say Castillo conspired with others to obtain stolen Social Security numbers and other identifying information belonging to people in New Jersey, Puerto Rico and elsewhere.
Castillo admitted to using that information to file tax returns on their behalf and collect the refunds himself, according to prosecutors.
Two other men, Jhan Luis Mejia Marcelino and Odanys Orlando Rojas, previously pleaded guilty and are awaiting sentencing in the case, which was investigated by the Internal Revenue Service’s Criminal Investigation division.
Prosecutors say Castillo faces up to five years in prison on the conspiracy charge, 10 years on the theft of government funds charge, and a $250,000 fine or twice the gain or loss on each.
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He faces a mandatory two-year prison sentence on the aggravated identity theft charge, which would run consecutive to any other sentence imposed, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.
His sentencing is scheduled for May 2.