Pawtucket businessman, three others indicted for identity theft, fraud

Pawtucket businessman, three others indicted for identity theft, fraud

PROVIDENCE - A Pawtucket businessman and three others, including two employees and the businessman’s sister, have been indicted by a federal grand jury for their alleged participation in an extensive stolen identity and tax refund fraud scheme which resulted in 448 fraudulently obtained U.S. Treasury checks totaling $2.8 million dollars being deposited into 26 bank accounts under their control.

The indictment charges Juan Vasquez, 55, of Pawtucket, and Erika Tomasino, 43, Belkis Vasquez, 49, and Doris Morel, 43, of Central Falls, with aggravated identity theft, theft of government property, money laundering and mail fraud.

Juan Vasquez is the owner and operator of the Dominican Market in Pawtucket, through which it is alleged that a majority of the fraud was perpetrated. He controlled the bank accounts of the Dominican Market and numerous other businesses in his name and others through which it is alleged the fraud scheme operated.

Juan Vasquez was arrested by federal agents in Florida on Sept. 9 on a criminal complaint and arrest warrant issued in Rhode Island charging him for his alleged role in the fraud scheme. He will be returned to Rhode Island for an initial appearance on the criminal complaint and for arraignment on the indictment on future dates to be determined.

Tomasino, an employee of Juan Vasquez, and his sister, Belkis Vasquez, were arraigned Wednesday before U.S. District Court Magistrate Judge Lincoln Almond and released on personal recognizance. Doris Morel, an employee of Juan Vasquez, was arraigned on Tuesday before U.S. District Court Magistrate Judge Lincoln D. Almond and released on unsecured bond. They entered not guilty pleas.

According to court documents, an investigation by federal agents and the U.S. Attorney’s Office, the individuals participating in the fraud conspiracy used the stolen identities of hundreds of individuals, mostly residents of Puerto Rico, to file fraudulent tax returns to obtain tax refunds.

The suspects are accused of withdrawing the money from the banks and using it for a variety of personal expenses as well as transferring it to the Dominican Republic.

The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Sandra Hebert and John McAdams.

The matter was investigated by IRS Criminal Investigation, the U.S. Secret Service and the U.S. Postal Inspection Service.