Postal worker sentenced to 3 years for stealing $390K via fraudulent tax returns

TRENTON – Acting Attorney General John J. Hoffman announced that a U.S. Postal Service mail carrier was sentenced to prison today for using his mail route to aid a group of Paterson men who stole more than $390,000 by filing 151 fraudulent state and federal tax returns.

Miguel E. Duran, 35, of Paterson, was sentenced today to three years in state prison by Superior Court Judge Donna Gallucio in Passaic County. He previously pleaded guilty to second-degree theft by unlawful taking. In pleading guilty, Duran admitted that he participated in the conspiracy by supplying addresses from his mail route in Morris County to be used in filing false tax returns. He further admitted that he intercepted the resulting government refund checks while working his mail route. Duran delivered the checks to his co-conspirators and was paid $200 for each check. Duran was ordered to pay $29,800 in restitution.

Deputy Attorney General Denise Grugan prosecuted the case for the Division of Criminal Justice Financial and Computer Crimes Bureau. The charges stem from a joint investigation by the New Jersey Division of Taxation’s Office of Criminal Investigation and the Division of Criminal Justice. The investigation was led by Auditor Lee Roach of the Division of Taxation, retired Sgt. Robert Walker of the Division of Criminal Justice, and Deputy Attorney General Grugan.

Four other Paterson men previously pleaded guilty and were sentenced in the scheme. 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.

Between April 18 and Aug. 15, 2007, the defendants conspired to file 117 fraudulent New Jersey Gross Income Tax returns, which resulted in them receiving $272,044 in state refund checks that they laundered through a number of bank accounts. During the same period, they also filed 34 fraudulent U.S. Individual Income Tax returns, which resulted in them receiving $118,790 in refund checks from the U.S. Treasury. The scheme was uncovered in August 2007, when auditors in the Division of Taxation detected an abnormal pattern involving the refund checks, and irregularities in the related tax returns and W-2 forms, which proved to be fraudulent. Working with the Division of Criminal, they traced the refund checks to the defendants. Most of the state refund checks, which ranged from $1,500 to $3,676, were cashed by Caceres 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. Caceres, his cousin Espinal, and Perez ran a business called Global Movement LLC in Paterson, which was a tax preparation service, travel agency and money transmitter.