FRESNO — United States Attorney Benjamin B. Wagner said that on Oct. 6, a federal grand jury returned an indictment charging Rafael Duran Garcia, 25, of Planada, with mail fraud and with filing false claims against the United States, for a scheme to file false federal tax returns for tax refunds.
At his arraignment Wednesday in federal court, Garcia pleaded not guilty. His next court date is Nov. 14.
According to the indictment, Garcia submitted more than 100 false federal income tax returns to the Internal Revenue Service in the names of third parties, using fabricated W-2 forms containing false wage and withholding information, claiming more than $180,000 in refunds.
The case is the product of an extensive investigation by the Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigation, the U.S. Attorney’s office said in a news release. Assistant U.S. Attorney Kirk Sherriff is prosecuting the case.
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If convicted, Garcia faces a maximum statutory penalty of 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine on the mail fraud charges, and five years in prison and a $250,000 fine on the false claims charges. The actual sentence, however, will be determined at the discretion of the court after consideration of any applicable statutory sentencing factors and the Federal Sentencing Guidelines, which take into account a number of variables.
The charges are only allegations and the defendant is presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.--Sun-Star staff