ROCKLAND COUNTY, N.Y. -- A Garnerville man who owned several taxi companies and four other people were charged Wednesday in a brazen scheme to defraud state and county agencies of more than $95,000 in benefits, according to Rockland County District Attorney Thomas P. Zugibe.
Angel Henriquez, the owner of Nyack Taxi, North Rockland Taxi and Car Service and Apple Taxi, was charged with grand larceny and four counts of falsifying business records, Zugibe said.
Henriquez is accused of writing fraudulent letters to the Rockland County Department of Social Services on behalf of five employees, added Zugibe.
According to the charges, the letters under-reported the income of the employees, making each worker eligible to receive DSS benefits to which they were not entitled.
As a result of Henriquez's false filings, the employees improperly obtained a total of $65,000 in DSS benefits, Zugibe said.
In addition, Henriquez and his wife, Karolina Diaz-Henriquez, were charged with personally submitting false documentation understating Angel Henriquez’s income. As a result of the alleged phony filings, the couple received more than $29,000 in DSS benefits, according to the charges.
“These defendants are charged with stealing nearly $100,000 in welfare benefits, utilizing a pernicious plot to secure government money they were not entitled to," Zugibe said. "Public assistance is intended to help the disadvantaged and truly needy. As a result of this investigation, together with our partners in law enforcement, this fraud was uncovered and the cheats will be brought to justice.”
Diaz-Henriquez was charged with one count of grand larceny, he added.
Employees James Simpson and Manuel Ortega were also charged with grand larceny, Zugibe said,
In addition to the larceny charge, Henriquez was also charged with failing to report income, failing to collect withholding taxes, failing to remit employee taxes, failing to obtain Worker’s Compensation benefits for his employees, and failing to have Unemployment Insurance for his employees.
His business associate, Richard Morel of Garnerville, was also arrested and charged with failing to report income.
Zugibe thanked the United States Department of Homeland Security-Homeland Security Investigations, ICE/ESU, New York State Police, the Rockland County Sheriff's Office, the Rockland County Department of Social Services, the Town of Haverstraw Police Department and the Town of Orangetown Police Department for their assistance with the investigation.
If convicted, Henriquez faces up to 15 years in state prison.The investigation is ongoing. More arrests are expected.