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Department of JusticeU.S. Attorney’s OfficeDistrict of MassachusettsFOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
"Our strong continued partnerships with federal law enforcement remains a huge asset in helping to keep the City of Lawrence safe. We are grateful for their continued support". -Chief Roy Vasque
Five Men Charged with Identity Theft
BOSTON – Five men have been charged in federal court in Boston as a result of a federal investigation targeting offenders of document and benefit fraud.
The following individuals have each been charged with aggravated identity theft and false representation of a Social Security number:
Arias Aguasvivas and Zapata Suarez were arrested on complaints and had initial appearances in federal court in Boston on Sept. 5, 2019. Andujar Ruiz and De Jesus Guerrero are currently in state custody awaiting trial on state charges, and John Doe is currently incarcerated in state prison. Indictments were returned against all five men today.
The investigation was conducted by Homeland Security Investigation’s Document and Benefit Fraud Task Force (DBFTF), a specialized investigative group comprising personnel from various state, local, and federal agencies with expertise in detecting, deterring, and disrupting organizations and individuals involved in various types of document, identity, and benefit fraud schemes.
The DBFTF is currently investigating suspected aliens who are believed to have obtained stolen identities of U.S. citizens born in Puerto Rico. The DBFTF has investigated individuals who have used stolen identities to obtain public benefits that they otherwise would not be eligible to receive, including Massachusetts Registry of Motor Vehicles identity documents, Social Security numbers, MassHealth benefits, public housing benefits, and/or unemployment benefits.
In July 2018, a DGFTF-led investigation resulted in the arrests of 25 individuals on charges of identity theft and Social Security fraud. In April 2019, a separate DBFTF-led investigation resulted in 11 additional arrests, and in June 2019 another investigation led to five arrests.
The charge of aggravated identity theft carries a mandatory two-year prison sentence that must run consecutively to any other sentence imposed, up to one year of supervised release and a fine of up to $250,000. The charge of false representation of a Social Security number provides for a sentence of up to five years in prison, three years of supervised release and a fine of $250,000. Sentences are imposed by a federal district court judge based on the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.
United States Attorney Andrew E. Lelling; Jason Molina, Special Agent in Charge of Homeland Security Investigations in Boston; and Phillip M. Coyne, Special Agent in Charge of the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, Office of Inspector General, made the announcement today. Valuable assistance was provided by the Social Security Administration, Office of Inspector General, Office of Investigations, Boston Field Office; U.S. Secret Service; U.S. Postal Inspection Service; U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Enforcement and Removal Operations, Boston; the U.S. Marshals Service; the Massachusetts State Police; the Massachusetts Office of Inspector General; the Lawrence Police Department; and the Methuen Police Department.
The details contained in the charging documents are allegations. Defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.