Corrupt Bank Employee Pleads Guilty to Role in Tax Fraud Conspiracy
|U.S. Attorney’s Office February 22, 2013|
ANCHORAGE—U.S. Attorney Karen L. Loeffler announced today that Hilda Josephine Hernandez-McMullen, 47, of Anchorage, Alaska, pled guilty on Thursday to eight separate felony counts based on her role assisting others in opening bank accounts and fraudulently negotiating tax refund checks using stolen identities.
Specifically, on February 21, 2013, Hernandez-McMullen pled guilty to seven counts of bank fraud for assisting others to open bank accounts in false names as well as one count of assisting an individual in negotiating a forged U.S. Treasury check. She faces a maximum sentence of 30 years in prison for each bank account she helped open as well as a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison for her role in negotiating the forged U.S. Treasury check. Sentencing is currently scheduled for June 10, 2013, before United States District Court Judge Timothy M. Burgess.
Hernandez-McMullen was indicted in July 2012, along with 10 other defendants for her role in an alleged $25 million dollar tax fraud and identity theft scheme that used stolen Puerto Rican identities to file false tax returns and obtain fraudulent income tax refunds.
According to her plea agreement, Hernandez-McMullen worked as a personal banker at Wells Fargo Bank in Anchorage between December 2008 and September 2010 and opened several bank accounts for defendants also charged in the scheme. Hernandez-McMullen opened the accounts despite knowing that the names and identifying information used to open them were false.
Court documents state that these and other bank accounts were then used to negotiate income tax refund checks that defendants in this case were not entitled to receive and which were not in their names.
Hernandez-McMullen admitted to assisting in the fraudulent negotiation of checks totaling $37,978.15. She further admitted that she negotiated these checks despite the fact that they were issued to people who were not at the bank at the time the checks were being negotiated.
Trial for the remaining defendants in the case is scheduled for May 14, 2013, at 9:00 a.m. in Anchorage.
The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney James Barkeley, Thomas C. Bradley, and Stephanie C. Courter of the U.S. Attorney’s Office, District of Alaska. The case was investigated and prosecuted under the purview of the Organized Crime and Drug Enforcement Task Force, which is made up of personnel from the U.S. Attorney’s Office; Federal Bureau of Investigation; Drug Enforcement Administration; the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives; ICE Homeland Security Investigations; Internal Revenue Service–Criminal Investigations; U.S. Marshals Service; U.S. Postal Inspection Service; U.S. Coast Guard; and the Anchorage Police Department.
Anyone who believes that they have been a victim of identity theft, or wants information about preventing identity theft, may obtain helpful information and complaint forms on various government websites, including the Federal Trade Commission, the Justice Department, the Social Security Administration, and the IRS.