Ariana Fajardo Orshan, U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Florida, Michael J. De Palma, Special Agent in Charge, Internal Revenue Service, Criminal Investigation (IRS-CI), and George L. Piro, Special Agent in Charge, FBI’s Miami Field Office announced that Evelio Suarez, a Hialeah check casher, was sentenced to prison today for laundering over $100 million in proceeds of healthcare, mortgage and identity theft tax refund fraud.
Suarez, 53, of Miramar, Florida, previously pled guilty to one count of money laundering (Case No. 18cr20669). He was sentenced by U.S. District Judge Robert N. Scola, Jr. to 156 months of prison, to be followed by 3 years of supervised release. He was also ordered to forfeit $149,048,366.
According to the agreed upon factual proffer and court documents, from 2013 through 2015, Suarez controlled a number of check-cashing stores located in Hialeah, Florida (the “Suarez Stores”). During this period, the defendant caused the cashing of checks at the Suarez Stores that were the proceeds of fraudulent activity, including identity-theft tax refund fraud, health care fraud, and mortgage fraud. On numerous occasions, Suarez cashed individual fraudulent Medicare checks exceeding $200,000 and individual U.S. Treasury tax refund checks exceeding $150,000. Suarez knew that the checks had been obtained from fraudulent activity and, on occasion, knowingly accepted fake identification documents.
According to the factual proffer, because Suarez knew the funds came from illegal sources, the defendant charged an additional fee on top of the standard fee charged by the check-cashing stores. Suarez charged this as a personal fee that he took in cash from the stores. Suarez also often withheld money from the checks and falsely claimed to the scammers that the money from their checks had been frozen by the banks or the authorities.
According to the factual proffer, Suarez knowingly cashed at least $100 million in checks that came from either identity-theft tax refund fraud, healthcare fraud or mortgage fraud.
U.S. Attorney Fajardo Orshan commended the investigative efforts of IRS-CI and FBI in this matter. The case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Michael N. Berger and Yisel Valdes. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Annika M. Miranda and Adrienne Rosen are handling the asset forfeiture aspects of the case.