GR businessman pleaded guilty to $2.9 million tax scam

Photo of Tienda La Nueva Esperanza at 1814 S. Division Avenue, Grand Rapids, Michigan.

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) – A Grand Rapids businessman pleaded guilty to depositing nearly $2.9 million dollars’ worth of fraudulently obtained federal tax refund checks into a bank account for a local grocery store Friday.

Mateo Velasquez-Garcia pleaded guilty to one count of Forgery of U.S. Treasury Checks and one count of Illegal Re-entry by an Alien, according to U.S. Attorney Patrick A. Miles, Jr.

Velasquez-Garcia ran Tienda La Nueva Esperanza, a grocery store at 1814 S. Division Avenue in Grand Rapids. He told federal agents that he put false endorsements on the back of 115 treasury checks from 2011 to 2012.

Velasquez-Garcia is an alien who has been deported before and has been found to be in the country without consent from the Attorney General or the Secretary of Homeland Security, according to a release.

The maximum penalty for forging U.S. Treasury checks is ten years in prison and a $250,000 fine. The maximum penalty for illegal re-entry is two years in prison and a $250,000 fine, the release said.

The case was investigated by Special Agents of the Homeland Security Investigation and IRS Criminal Investigation.

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