Two former NFL players are among seven people accused of fraudulently obtaining tax refund checks, while a third ex-player is charged with wire fraud, the U.S. Attorney's Office announced Tuesday.
Louis Gachelin, 31, of Miami, formerly of the New England Patriots, and former University of Miami defensive tackle William Joseph, who played for the New York Giants and the Oakland Raiders, were arrested in an FBI-led undercover operation targeting identity theft tax refund fraud, prosecutors said.
According to the complaint affidavits, the FBI set up a financial services store in North Miami "as a front to accept fraudulently obtained tax refund checks from customers looking to cash those checks for a large fee."
Investigators said customers came in with refund anticipation checks or U.S. Treasury tax refund checks and presented fraudulent identification documents or handwritten Social Security numbers in the names of the people whose names were on the checks, officials said. Many of the people whose names appeared on the checks had filed identity theft affidavits with the Internal Revenue Service, according to the complaint affidavit.
Gachelin and Joseph, along with five others, are accused of negotiating fraudulently obtained tax refund checks in total values of $70,000 to $120,000.
The other suspects in the case are Regina Carroll, 37, of Miami; Lanny Fried, 34, of Miami Lakes; Guy Maxineau, 35, of Miami; Castra Pierre-Louis, 34, of Miami; and Gunie Similien, 32, of Miami.
The face charges of forgery of U.S. Treasury checks, theft of government money and use of five or more identification documents with unlawful intent. If convicted, they could face five to 15 years in prison.
Meanwhile, former NFL player Michael Antwon Bennett, 33, is accused of trying to obtain a $200,000 loan from the same FBI undercover store by purporting to have a $9 million bank balance in an account that the FBI said had no money in it. Bennett is charged with wire fraud.