The alleged ringleader of a binational scam to cash fraudulently obtained federal tax refund checks using information stolen from the Doña Ana County Clerk’s Office has pleaded guilty to federal charges.
That’s according to the Las Cruces Sun-News, which is reporting that the ringleader, Maria L. Ceniceros of Anthony, N.M., and Mexican national Armando Gutierrez-Torres have both pleaded guilty to federal charges of theft of government property and aggravated identity theft.
From the newspaper:
According to the U.S. Attorney’s Office, Ceniceros admitted that she accessed voter information at work and recorded the names, dates of birth and Social Security numbers of 111 people.
Ceniceros said she knew the voter information was going to be used to file fraudulent federal income tax returns in order to obtain fraudulent refund checks. She said she also agreed to mail fraudulent federal income tax returns and cash the checks for Gutierrez-Torres.
Each will be sentenced to two years in prison, the Sun-News reported. Gutierrez-Torres will be deported when he’s released from prison.
The two, in addition to Ceniceros’ husband Francisco Ceniceros and her daughter Denise Ceniceros, are facing additional charges in state court. Denise Ceniceros pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit fraud on Friday, the Sun-News reported. She was granted a conditional discharge — meaning if she successfully completes 18 months of supervised probation the felony conviction will be erased from her record.
The theft of Social Security numbers and other personal information from the county’s voter file shocked many when charges were first filed in June. In response, the clerk’s office has recently implemented new security measures.