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Document and Benefit Fraud

Pennsylvania man sentenced for stealing identities of hospital patients in tax fraud scheme

PHILADELPHIA — A Pennsylvania man was sentenced Wednesday to 51 months in federal prison for stealing the identities of numerous patients in a local hospital as part of a tax fraud scheme. The investigation was conducted by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), the U.S. Department of State Diplomatic Security Service, U.S. Department of Labor Office of Inspector General, and Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigations.

Reynaldo Estrada, 50, of Brookhaven, was also ordered to serve three years of supervised release, and pay $409,779 restitution, and a $300 special assessment. He pleaded guilty April 24 to one count each of conspiracy to commit identity theft, aggravated identity theft, and aiding and abetting the use of a false Social Security number.

“The defendant participated in a vast identity theft and tax-refund scheme which not only defrauded the government of millions in bogus refunds, but it also put individuals’ personal information and financial future at risk, neither of which will be tolerated,” said Special Agent-in-Charge John Kelleghan, of HSI Philadelphia.

According to court documents, between October 2010 and October 2011, while he was working for Crozer Chester Medical Center’s Environmental Services Department and at Community Hospital in Chester, Estrada stole scores of treatment authorization forms containing patients’ names, addresses, dates of birth, and Social Security numbers. Estrada admitted that he gave the forms to co-conspirators Rafael Henriquez Polanco and Yanira Lopez, who paid him for the stolen identities, knowing that Polanco and Lopez were using the forms as part of a tax fraud scheme.  Polanco and Lopez are charged in a separate indictment with using the identifying information provided by Estrada to prepare and file approximately 144 false and fraudulent federal individual income tax returns claiming bogus refunds in excess of $1.7 million. Polanco is separately charged with possessing both powder and crack cocaine with the intent to distribute. Both Polanco and Lopez have pleaded guilty to all charges against them.