Pre­vi­ously-de­ported Paw­tucket man pleads guilty to litany of charges af­ter re-en­ter­ing US il­le­gally

Pawtucket Times - - FRONT PAGE - Times Staff

PAW­TUCKET — A pre­vi­ously-de­ported Do­mini­can na­tional pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court in Prov­i­dence Wed­nes­day to charges that he re-en­tered the coun­try il­le­gally, and then used the iden­ti­ties and So­cial Se­cu­rity num­bers of oth­ers with­out their knowl­edge to fraud­u­lently ob­tain health care and wel­fare ben­e­fits.

Ap­pear­ing be­fore U.S. District Court Judge John J. McCon­nell Jr., Car­los José Portes-Or­tiz, 38, of Paw­tucket, pleaded guilty to health care fraud, wel­fare (SNAP) fraud, mis­use of So­cial Se­cu­rity num­bers, ag­gra­vated iden­tity theft, and il­le­gal reen­try.

Portes-Or­tiz was among more than 600 in­di­vid­u­als in 58 dis­tricts charged last spring and sum­mer by the Depart­ment of Jus­tice and United States At­tor­ney’s Of­fices for their par­tic­i­pa­tion in fraud schemes, par­tic­u­larly health care and wel­fare fraud schemes.

Portes-Or­tiz, who uses at least five dif­fer­ent aliases, was de­ported from the United States in Fe­bru­ary 2009, af­ter hav­ing been sen­tenced some two years ear­lier to 37 months in fed­eral prison for con­spir­acy to

im­port 100 grams or more of heroin and 500 grams or more of co­caine. Portes-Or­tiz was ar­rested in June 2005 at Ne­wark Lib­erty International Air­port af­ter ar­riv­ing from the Do­mini­can Repub­lic.

Fed­eral pros­e­cu­tors said that in Novem­ber 2015, Prov­i­dence po­lice re­sponded to a traf­fic ac­ci­dent and en­coun­tered Portes-Or­tiz, who pre­sented of­fi­cers with a Do­mini­can driver’s li­cense in the name of an­other per­son. He was ar­rested on charges of driv­ing un­der the in­flu­ence and driv­ing af­ter de­nial, sus­pen­sion or re­vo­ca­tion of a driver’s li­cense.

In March 2017, Portes-Or­tiz was ar­rested in Ded­ham, Mass., af­ter at­tempt­ing to pur­chase over $1,000 worth of iPhone and iPad equip­ment us­ing a driver’s li­cense de­pict­ing his pho­to­graph and a credit card both in the name of a fe­male. At the time of his ar­rest, Portes-Or­tiz was found to be in pos­ses­sion of a Rhode Is­land Neigh­bor­hood Health Plan card, a Rhode Is­land EBT card for SNAP ben­e­fits, a Rhode Is­land iden­ti­fi­ca­tion card, a Puerto Ri­can driver’s li­cense and a bank debit card, some de­pict­ing his pho­to­graph but all in names other than his own. It was later de­ter­mined through fin­ger­prints that the per­son ar­rested was ac­tu­ally Portes-Or­tiz.

An in­ves­ti­ga­tion led by lo­cal agents from the U.S. Depart­ment of Health and Hu­man Ser­vices Of­fice of In­spec­tor Gen­eral de­ter­mined that Portes-Or­tiz used mul­ti­ple names and stolen per­sonal iden­ti­fy­ing in­for­ma­tion to gain Rhode Is­land ID cards; Med­i­caid and health care ben­e­fits, in­clud­ing med­i­cal, phar­ma­ceu­ti­cal and den­tal ser­vices; EBT cards and SNAP ben­e­fits.

The in­ves­ti­ga­tion also de­ter­mined that Portes-Or­tiz was em­ployed at a re­tail store while, at the same time, fraud­u­lently ob­tain­ing fed­eral pro­gram ben­e­fits and ser­vices us­ing stolen iden­ti­ties and iden­ti­fy­ing in­for­ma­tion.

Portes-Or­tiz, de­tained in fed­eral cus­tody since his ar­rest on June 27, is sched­uled to be sen­tenced on Jan­uary 10.

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