BOSTON — Twenty five individuals were charged as a result of a U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) probe targeting offenders of document and benefit fraud.
Peter C. Fitzhugh, HSI Boston special agent in charge, joined U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions, and U.S. Attorney for Massachusetts Andrew E . Lelling in the announcement Thursday. Many of the defendants have prior criminal histories, including a convicted murderer who escaped from prison in Puerto Rico in 1994 while serving a 40-year sentence. 21 of the alleged defendants are unlawfully present in the United States.
The arrests and charges announced were the result of “Operation Double Trouble,” a long term, coordinated investigation by HSI’s Document and Benefit Fraud Task Force (DBFTF) comprised of local, state and federal agencies joining together to detect, deter and disrupt organizations and individuals involved in a wide range of document, identity and benefit fraud schemes. The Boston DBFTF includes representatives from the Offices of Inspectors General from the U.S. Department of Health, U.S. Social Security Administration, U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, U.S. Department of Labor, the U.S. Department of State’s Diplomatic Security Service, the U.S. Postal Inspection Service as well as the Massachusetts State Police and the Office of the Massachusetts State Auditor.
In total, those arrested and charged are alleged to have defrauded the American taxpayer of more than a quarter of a million dollars, including $200,000 in health care.
The DBFTF is currently investigating suspected aliens, predominately from the Dominican Republic, who are believed to have obtained stolen identities of United States citizens living in Puerto Rico and who have used those identities to obtain documents and public benefits that they would not otherwise be eligible to receive, such as Registry of Motor Vehicles identity documents, Social Security numbers, Medicaid, unemployment and public housing subsidies. Among other things, a comparison of public benefits records revealed the identities of numerous individuals who received public benefits in Puerto Rico and Massachusetts on or about the same date.
“I want to thank all of the members of the Document and Benefit Fraud Task Force who worked on this investigation”, said U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions. “ Across this city and across America, teachers, truck drivers, and construction workers are going to work and paying taxes that are being stolen from the public treasury by fraudsters and criminals. We are going to continue to pursue cases of identity theft against the American people here in Massachusetts and wherever they take place.”
Twenty-five individuals have been charged with various federal crimes; all but four of the defendants are unlawfully present in the United States. Many defendants have criminal histories including a conviction for murder and drug charges including:
- Jose Lopez Rosado, 53, formerly residing in Worcester County, MA , charged with one count of aggravated identity theft and one count of false representation of a Social Security number. According to court documents, the defendant escaped from prison in Puerto Rico in 1994 while serving a 40-year sentence for second degree murder. He is currently in state custody on unrelated charges. His true identity was not known until now.
- Domingo Garcia Suero, 54, a Dominican national formerly residing in Haverhill,MA was indicted in May and arrested today on five counts of distribution and possession with intent to distribute fentanyl; one count of being a felon in possession of a firearm; two counts of false representation of a Social Security number; and one count of aggravated identity theft.
- View the full list of suspects arrested in this operation with charges →
Charges filed include a wide range of crimes from aggravated identity theft to theft of public funds and others.
Also joining Attorney General Sessions, U.S. Attorney Andrew E. Lelling and Peter C. Fitzhugh, Special Agent in Charge of Homeland Security Investigations at the announcement in Boston were Phillip Coyne, Special Agent in Charge of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Office of the Inspector General; Scott Antolik, Special Agent in Charge of the Social Security Administration, Office of Inspector General, Office of Investigations, Boston Field Division; Christina Scaringi, Special Agent in Charge of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, Office of Inspector General, Northeast Regional Office; Michael Mikulka, Special Agent in Charge of the U.S. Department of Labor, Office of Inspector General, Office of Investigations; William B. Gannon, Special Agent in Charge of the U.S. Department of State, Diplomatic Security Service, Boston Field Office; Delany De Leon-Colon, Acting Inspector in Charge of the U.S. Postal Inspection Service; Colonel Kerry A. Gilpin, Superintendent of the Massachusetts State Police; and Massachusetts State Auditor Suzanne M. Bump. Also assisting in the operation were the U.S. Marshals Service Puerto Rico Violent Offender Task Force.