Former New Mexico Taxation and Revenue employee sentenced for wire fraud, identity theft, money laundering
Wednesday, January 25, 2023
For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney’s Office, District of New Mexico
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. – Alexander M.M. Uballez, United States Attorney for the District of New Mexico, announced yesterday that George Martinez was sentenced to 94 months in prison. Martinez, 46, of Albuquerque, pleaded guilty on July 11, 2022, to 42 counts each of wire fraud and aggravated identity theft and six counts of money laundering. The Court ordered Martinez to pay $1,216,205 in restitution, and issued a forfeiture money judgment in the amount of $689,797.
From 2009 through July 16, 2018, Martinez used his position as the Unit Supervisor/Bureau Chief of the Questionable Refund Unit at the New Mexico Taxation and Revenue Department to fraudulently alter tax refunds and direct them to bank accounts that he controlled. Martinez perpetrated the fraud by copying tax returns that had already been processed or creating new returns in taxpayers’ accounts. He altered information such as taxpayers’ Social Security numbers, bank account numbers and withholding amounts in the returns. By changing the withholding amounts, he increased the amounts of the refunds. Martinez fraudulently directed $1,216,205 into accounts in his control.
“Today’s sentence sends a strong message: If you abuse the public trust, you will pay the price,” said New Mexico Taxation and Revenue Secretary Stephanie Schardin Clarke.
“We will aggressively protect your tax dollars from fraud, especially when driven by the greed of a corrupt government official,” stated United States Attorney Alexander M.M. Uballez. “Our system of governance depends on the trust and faith of the people we serve. There are few more important pressure points for our democracy than the system that funds it. We work tirelessly with our partners to ensure public dollars serve the public.”
“New Mexico taxpayers expect their public servants to be honest, ethical and beyond reproach,” stated IRS Criminal Investigation Special Agent in Charge Albert Childress. “In this case, the defendant not only violated the public trust, he personally enriched himself by committing identity theft, altering tax refunds and directing nearly $700,000 of ill-gotten gains to himself.”
“When a supervisor entrusted with the taxpayers’ money enriches himself like this defendant did, it’s a serious crime that can shake people’s confidence in their government,” said Raul Bujanda, FBI Special Agent in Charge. “That’s why the FBI teamed up with IRS Criminal Investigation and the New Mexico Taxation and Revenue Department to aggressively investigate this case and make sure justice was done. We hope today’s sentencing sends a warning to anyone in government who might be tempted to illegally help themselves to the public till: The FBI will come after you and will make sure you pay for every penny you stole.”
Upon his release from prison, Martinez will be subject to 3 years of supervised release.
The FBI Albuquerque Field Office and the IRS Criminal Investigation Phoenix Field Office investigated this case with assistance from the New Mexico Taxation and Revenue Department’s Tax Fraud Investigations Division. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Paul Schied and Jeremy Peña prosecuted the case. Taxation and Revenue has strengthened its internal controls by overhauling system access privileges and updating business procedures. Officials continue to monitor daily business activity for abnormalities and suspicious transactions.
TFID also provides training to employees on how to spot potential fraud and operates a hotline for employees and the public to report suspicious activity. Possible fraud can be reported by calling 1-866-457-6789 or by email at Tax.Fraud@state.nm.us.U.S. Department of Justice Press Release
Categories: Anti-Money Laundering Department of Justice (DOJ) Updates Enforcement Actions Fraud Identity Theft Incarceration/Prison Sentences Wire Fraud
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