AP NEWS

California man sentenced in stolen tax refund checks scheme

January 22, 2020 GMT

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — A California man was sentenced Wednesday to five years in federal prison with no parole for participating in a scheme to cash more than $447,000 in stolen tax refund checks.

Dante L. Chestnut, 31, of Ontario, California, pleaded guilty in July 2019 to conspiracy to commit bank fraud, bank fraud and aggravated identity theft.

Chestnut admitted that he and others stole tax refund checks from the mail in April 2016. They then used driver’s licenses and other identification documents to cash the checks at Academy Bank branches in Arizona, Colorado, Kansas and Missouri, prosecutors said.

Chestnut cashed 23 stolen checks totaling $115,760, the highest amount of any of the conspirators. He and others would deposit the stolen checks into newly opened bank accounts, then withdraw most of the money, leaving only a small amount in the account.

When Chestnut passed stolen U.S. Treasury checks at various Academy Bank branches, the Treasury Department required Academy Bank to reimburse the government, which then reimbursed the intended recipients of the refund checks.

Chestnut is the fifth of eight defendants in the case to plead guilty and be sentenced.