A La Feria man was sentenced to the same fate as his brother — time served — for trying to bilk the federal government out of thousands of dollars through fraudulent tax claims.
The men were part of a massive tax fraud scheme that used popular family history research website Ancestry.com to find Social Security numbers for recently deceased people, then file tax claims in their names.
U.S. District Judge Andrew S. Hanen on Wednesday sentenced Robert Gutierrez to time served, court documents show.
Gutierrez’s brother, Edward Gutierrez, also was sentenced to time served on Aug. 26. Robert Gutierrez is the final defendant to be sentenced.
He pleaded guilty to preparing a fraudulent income tax claim on Feb. 28, 2008, for a 2007 tax year refund of $1,808, court documents show.
The Gutierrez brothers’ grandmother Loretta Ann McCune; his mother Judy Lynn McCune; and his aunt Rania Ann Sanchez, were charged in January with making 340 false tax return claims totaling $763,124.
The family didn’t get all the money; court testimony in July revealed that the group cashed in on more than $200,000 in returns. Each defendant was ordered to contribute to paying the amount back to the Internal Revenue Service.
Testimony also revealed that the family used the family research website Ancestry.com to find names and Social Security numbers of recently deceased area people and used the information to file fraudulent claims.
When Robert Gutierrez was sentenced Wednesday, prosecutors dropped charges of conspiracy to defraud the country through fraudulent claims, the record indicates.
Earlier this year, Hanen sentenced Judy Lynn McCune to 4 years, 7½ months in prison. Loretta Ann McCune was given 20 months and Rania Ann Sanchez was sentenced to 2 years behind bars. Judy Lynn McCune admitted to recruiting her family members for the scheme, court testimony has shown.
Robert Gutierrez will spend 3 months in a halfway house; perform 50 hours of community service; take mental health and anger management courses; spend 3 years on probation and refrain from filing tax returns for anyone other than himself.