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Document and Benefit Fraud

Honduran sentenced to 3 years for stealing government checks from the mail

BALTIMORE - A 41-year-old Honduran man was sentenced today to three years in prison, followed by three years of supervised release for receiving stolen property and aggravated identity theft following an extensive investigation by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents.

The ICE investigation revealed that Juan Antonio Avila and his associates followed postal carriers on their routes, broke into mailboxes and stole U.S. Treasury checks and other government-issued checks. The checks were payment of tax returns and government benefits payments. In April 2006, Avila cashed a stolen check at a liquor store in Prince Frederick, Md., using fraudulent identification. ICE investigators also seized identification-making equipment at a residence at which Avila was staying.

U.S. District Judge William D. Quarles, Jr. determined that at least $70,000 in losses was attributed to Avila.

Others involved in the scheme pleaded guilty and were recently sentenced for receiving stolen property, aggravated identity theft and illegal reentry into the United States.

Jose Matires Carranza-Gonzales, 27, also pleaded guilty on March 26, 2008. He faces a maximum sentence for receipt of stolen property of 10 years in prison, and a mandatory sentence of two years in prison for aggravated identity theft, consecutive to any other sentence imposed, when he is sentenced on June 13, 2008.

Twenty-two year-old Elmin Uliser-Reyes pleaded guilty to his participation in the scheme and was sentenced on April 3, 2008, to three years in prison for receiving stolen property, aggravated identity theft and illegal reentry into the United States. He will be deported after serving his sentence.

ICE agents received assistance from numerous federal and state agencies including the St. Mary's County Sheriff's Office and Howard County Sheriff's Office.