U.S. Attorney's Office
Southern District of Florida
(305) 961-9001
November 3, 2015

Six Defendants Sentenced in $4.7 Million Check Cashing and Identity Theft Scheme

Six defendants have been sentenced to prison terms for their participation in a $4.7 million check cashing and identity theft scheme.

Wifredo A. Ferrer, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Florida, and George L. Piro, Special Agent in Charge, Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), made the announcement.

Stanley Presendieu, 33, of Lake Worth, Latasha Pharr, 29, of Davie, Scarlee Valias Jean, 25, of Smyrna, Georgia, Brian Deronceler, 32, of West Palm Beach, and Jason Miles, 34, of Plantation, were indicted in case number 15-20032-CR-GAYLES and charged with conspiracy to commit bank fraud, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 1349, bank fraud, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 1344, and aggravated identity theft, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 1028A. Husein Habib, 58, of Parkland, was charged by information in case number 15-20238-CR-GAYLES. Habib, Presendieu, Valias Jean, and Miles pled guilty to bank fraud conspiracy and aggravated identity theft. Following a jury trial, Deronceler and Pharr were convicted of all counts charged in the indictment.

On various dates, beginning on October 7, 2015, the defendants were sentenced for their participation in the fraudulent check cashing and identity theft scheme. Presendieu was sentenced to 212 months’ incarceration; Pharr was sentenced to 259 months’ incarceration; Valias Jean was sentenced to 51 months’ incarceration; Deronceler was sentenced to 183 months’ incarceration; Miles was sentenced to 145 months’ incarceration; and Habib was sentenced to 72 months’ incarceration.

According to the court record, Presendieu, Pharr, Jean, Deronceler and Miles used stolen personal identification information to make fraudulent claims on falsified tax returns. As a result of the unauthorized claims, the defendants fraudulently procured and cashed tax refund checks. The defendants also obtained stolen United States Treasury checks that had been issued for tax refunds, veterans’ benefits, and disability payments. Between March 2010 and late 2014, each of the defendants brought the illegally acquired checks and counterfeited identification documents to an accomplice, Habib, who operated a Boca Raton Kwik Stop convenience store that offered illicit check cashing services.

Evidence introduced at trial included undercover recordings of the conspirators presenting stolen and fraudulent checks, discussing the selection of identities they would use for the counterfeit identification cards and examining the quality of the falsified documentation that they produced for use in the check cashing scheme. The defendants and other individuals would use the stolen identities of victims throughout South Florida, including individuals in Miami-Dade, Broward, and Palm Beach counties along with others residing outside of the Southern District of Florida, and impersonate the taxpayers on fraudulent tax returns. The offenders would then have the refunds sent to an unauthorized address or transmitted to their illicit tax preparation companies. On other occasions, the conspirators arranged to cash the refunds and other benefit checks that were stolen from the U.S. mail. As a result of the fraudulent scheme, in excess of $4.7 million in stolen and fraudulent checks were cashed through the Boca Raton convenience store. Disabled individuals and other victims were deprived of much needed funds, college financial aid benefits were compromised, and one individual was temporarily forced to relocate to a homeless shelter.

Mr. Ferrer commended the investigative efforts of the FBI. This case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Karen Rochlin.

A copy of this press release may be found on the website of the United States Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Florida at www.usdoj.gov/usao/fls. Related court documents and information may be found on the website of the District Court for the Southern District of Florida at www.flsd.uscourts.gov or on http://pacer.flsd.uscourts.gov.

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