A former Downey resident was sentenced Monday to 21 months in federal prison for his role in submitting phony tax returns in the names of Puerto Rican residents to the Internal Revenue Service to obtain tax refunds.
Benjamin Demetrio — who also uses the name Antero Diaz-Diaz — was also ordered by U.S. District Judge S. James Otero to pay restitution of about $294,000 to the IRS.
Demetrio, 67, pleaded guilty in October to one count of conspiracy to defraud the United States with respect to claims.
According to the plea agreement, during the years 2007 and 2008, Demetrio along with his son, Ulises Demetrio Rivera, rented private mail boxes at various locations in the Southland using false identification documents.
The co-defendants further listed the names of Puerto Rican residents as persons authorized to receive mail at the boxes that were rented, the IRS said.
Subsequently, nearly 540 tax returns in the names of 157 people were filed with the IRS for 2004 through 2006, seeking earned income tax refunds based on the miscellaneous income reported and the number of dependents claimed on the tax returns.
As a result of these filings, the IRS issued and mailed nearly $294,000 in tax refund checks to the private mail boxes rented by Demetrio and his son.
In July 2008, a search of Demetrio’s home in Downey and a storage unit rented by the defendant revealed documents listing the names, dates of birth and social security numbers of people who were authorized recipients of mail on the mail boxes and had a false tax return filed using their name.
Also found were false identification documents bearing Demetrio’s photograph, according to the IRS.
Ulises Demetrio Rivera pleaded guilty to both conspiracy and aggravated identity theft and was sentenced in July to three years in federal prison.
— City News Service