NEWARK, N.J. – A Hudson County, New Jersey, woman pleaded guilty today to stealing over $1.5 million from over 100 victims made up mainly of non-profits, private schools, and religious institutions throughout New Jersey, U.S. Attorney Philip R. Sellinger announced.
Yezenia Castillo, 46, of Hoboken, New Jersey, pleaded guilty before U.S District Judge Susan D. Wigenton, to an information charging her with one count each of wire fraud and tax evasion.
According to documents filed in this case and statements made in court:
From 2012 through 2021, Castillo falsely claimed to be a CPA who could provide various financial and accounting services to non-profit organizations throughout New Jersey, including private schools and religious institutions. Castillo was not a CPA and never provided any of these promised services. After she was hired, Castillo used various ways to steal from her clients, including collecting fees for services that she never performed and transferring client funds to herself without authorization. Castillo also collected funds from clients by falsely claiming she would use it to pay their taxes, but she instead kept the money. To conceal her fraud, Castillo told victims that she had filed and paid their taxes, and she falsified receipts to make it appear to the victims as if their taxes were paid. Castillo defrauded over 100 victims, resulting in financial losses totaling over $1.5 million.
The charge of wire fraud carries a maximum potential penalty of 20 years in prison and $250,000 fine, or twice the gross gain or loss from the offense, whichever is greatest. The charge of tax evasion carries a maximum potential penalty of five years in prison and a $250,000 fine. Sentencing is scheduled for Aug. 7, 2023.
U.S. Attorney Philip R. Sellinger credited special agents of the FBI, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge James E. Dennehy in Newark; special agents of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, Office of the Inspector General, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Christina Scaringi; and special agents of IRS – Criminal Investigation, under the direction of Acting Special Agent in Charge Tammy L. Tomlins, with the investigation leading to the today’s guilty plea.
The government is represented by Assistant U.S. Attorney Blake Coppotelli of the U.S. Attorney’s Office Economic Crimes Unit.