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Financial Crimes

Hazleton business operator charged in stolen identity, tax fraud scheme

SCRANTON, Pa. — The owner of a Hazleton business operating under the name Sanchez Multi Service was charged Tuesday in a 43-count indictment with conspiracy in a stolen identity and tax fraud scheme. The investigation was conducted by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), the Scranton Office of the Internal Revenue Service, Criminal Investigation and the Hazleton City Police Department.

Rafael Sanchez, 50, formerly of Hazleton, was arrested in January. He is currently on pre-trial release.

According to court documents, from 2011 to 2014, Sanchez and others not named in the indictment used the identities of unknowing third parties to prepare and file fraudulent federal income tax returns. Sanchez allegedly deposited and cashed fraudulently obtained tax refund checks totaling hundreds of thousands of dollars. Sanchez is also alleged to have conspired to make false statements to a federal firearms dealer in connection with the purchase of a firearm.

If convicted Sanchez faces up to 20 years in prison and a lifetime of supervised release.

A defendant is presumed to be innocent unless and until found guilty in court.