United States Attorney Sarah R. Saldaña
Northern District of Texas
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
THURSDAY, JUNE 5, 2014
Two North Texas Men Plead Guilty to Role in Stolen Refund Identity Fraud Conspiracy
DALLAS — Two north Texas men have pleaded guilty in federal court in Dallas to their respective roles in a stolen refund identity fraud conspiracy, announced U.S. Attorney Sarah R. Saldaña of the Northern District of Texas.
Reminico Zhangazha appeared before U.S Magistrate Judge David L. Horan on Tuesday and pleaded guilty to one count of theft of public funds. Last month, co-defendant Tonderai Sakupwanya pleaded guilty to the same offense. Each faces a maximum statutory penalty of 10 years in federal prison and a $250,000 fine. Restitution could also be ordered. Sakupwanya is scheduled to be sentenced on September 8, 2014, by U.S. District Judge David C. Godbey. A sentencing date has not yet been set for Zhangazha. Both are in federal custody.
The plea agreements with the government also note that the defendants will forfeit the following property seized by law enforcement in May 2012 during the investigation of this case: $10,613 cash seized from Zhangazha’s vehicle; $93,513 cash from Villa Piana Luxury Apartments on Noel Road in Dallas; and $4,500 from a residence on Spring Mountain in Plano, Texas.
According to the factual resumes filed in the case, Zhangazha and Sakupwanya engaged in a scheme to defraud the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) by obtaining stolen tax refunds that were generated by e-filing false and fraudulent income tax returns. They rented private mailboxes in the names of aliases by using forged United Kingdom passports. They then established bank accounts using the alias names and mailing addresses acquired at the private mailboxes. During the course of the scheme, Zhangazha used the aliases of “Martin V. Masters” and “Roy Daniel Black.” Sakupwanya used the aliases of “Webster G. Rice,” “Floyd Robbins,” and “Floyd Roberts,” during the scheme, according to the factual resume.
According to the factual resumes, the Forms 1040 directed the IRS to electronically deposit the refunds into bank accounts the defendants established. Alternatively, the Forms 1040 directed refunds to be issued by a treasury check and mailed to an address under the control of the defendants. The income tax returns also directed refunds to accounts established at a third-party financial services company, such as EPS Financial, that would enable them to issue a check containing the tax refund. These third party checks and the treasury checks were deposited into bank accounts the defendants established. After the checks were deposited, or the tax refunds had been electronically deposited, the defendants would withdraw the funds for their own use and benefit. The factual resumes further note that the cash, mentioned above, which was seized from the defendants during the investigation, was obtained by them as a result of their scheme.
The case was investigated by IRS Criminal Investigation and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI). Assistant U.S. Attorney Chris Stokes is in charge of the prosecution.