A Camden County man has been sentenced to 36 months in prison for his role in a scheme that involved fraudulently-obtained federal tax refund checks.

43-year-old Jorge Gutierrez of Merchantville, who previously pleaded guilty to an indictment charging him with conspiracy to defraud the United States, was sentenced in Camden federal court on Thursday.

U.S. Attorney Philip Sellinger's office says in March 2018, Gutierrez, Alberto Sanchez, Awilda Henriquez, and Roque Bisono were indicted by a federal grand jury.

According to the indictment, Gutierrez, Henriquez, Bisono, Sanchez, and their conspirators obtained stolen identities of residents of Puerto Rico to file fraudulent income tax returns seeking federal tax refunds to which the conspirators were not entitled. The objective in doing so was to falsely and fraudulently generate income tax refund checks issued by the U.S. Treasury.

Federal officials say the group recruited U.S. Postal Service mail carriers as part of the scheme. Those carriers were paid for every U.S Treasury check that was stolen.

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The four then paid people to cash the tax refund checks in a variety of ways, including at check cashing businesses in and around Camden.

Gutierrez admitted that between April 2014 and August 2014, he was a member of the conspiracy that took 93 U.S. Treasury Refund checks that had been placed in the mail stream to be delivered to addresses on a postal mail route in Pennsauken. He admitted that he helped a man nicknamed “Chepe” steal money from the United States government.

Henriquez was convicted at trial and is scheduled to be sentenced next month. Sanchez pleaded guilty and was sentenced to 45 months in prison. Bisono pleaded guilty and was sentenced to time served.

In addition to the prison term, Gutierrez was sentenced to three years of supervised release and ordered to pay $565,091 in restitution.

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