Breaking the state's tax laws is a losing proposition. Read about those who found that out the hard way.

December 2017

Dec. 28

Julio Ibarra Regalon, 38, of Houston pleaded guilty Dec. 12, 2017 in state district court to failure to pay backup motor fuel taxes on fraudulent purchases made at three Houston gas stations in March.

He was granted deferred adjudication (no final conviction) and sentenced to four years’ community supervision, fined $500 and ordered to perform 120 hours of community service and pay $1,600 restitution to the U.S. Postal Service (USPS).

Regalon was indicted Dec. 6 for motor fuels tax evasion, a second-degree felony punishable by two to 20 years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000. He was charged with unlawfully obtaining more than 170 gallons of diesel fuel using information stolen from a USPS fleet credit card. The fuel was stored in two plastic, 250-gallon bladders concealed inside a van.

CID assisted the U.S. Postal Inspection Service with the investigation, aided by the Harris County Sheriff’s Office. The case was prosecuted in Harris County.

Dec. 27

Enmanuel Sierra Perez, 22, of Cleveland, Texas has pleaded guilty to theft for using one of 23 re-encoded gift cards to unlawfully dispense diesel fuel from the pumps at a discount department store into a 200-gallon auxiliary tank in the bed of a truck.

He was granted deferred adjudication (no final conviction) and sentenced in state district court to two years’ community supervision plus fees and court costs.

Perez had been charged earlier in 2017 with transporting motor fuel without proper shipping documents, a second-degree felony punishable by two to 20 years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000. He was convicted of the lesser included offense of theft of property, a class B misdemeanor punishable by up to 180 days in jail and a maximum fine of $2,000.

The case was prosecuted in Harris County.

Dec. 20

Maaz M. Moonis, 31, of Cleveland, Texas was indicted for unlawfully transporting untaxed tobacco products without required documentation to a Kirbyville tobacco store in 2015.

He is charged with a third-degree felony punishable by two to 10 years in prison and up to a $10,000 fine.

The case is pending prosecution in Jasper County.

Rodrigo Ramos Guerrero, 41, of Fort Worth and Gabriel Monroy Corona, 25, Juan Carlos Chavira Carranza, 47, and Luis Miguel Ramos Moreno, 33, all of Kermit, were arrested for allegedly using a company credit card to unlawfully obtain numerous gallons of diesel fuel from a Kermit gas station.

On Dec. 19, CID investigators observed members of the foursome dispensing diesel into an auxiliary tank in the bed of a pickup truck. The fuel was transferred soon afterward into a welding truck at a recreational vehicle park in Kermit.

All four suspects are charged with motor fuel tax evasion. Guerrero also is charged with transporting motor fuel without proper shipping documents. Both offenses are second-degree felonies punishable by two to 20 years in prison and fines of up to $10,000.

The case is pending prosecution in Winkler County.

Dec. 15

Angel Machado Sotolongo, 25, of Houston is accused of allegedly using an unlawfully obtained credit card to buy diesel fuel at a Baytown truck stop in September without paying back-up tax.

He is charged with motor fuels tax evasion, a second-degree felony punishable by two to 20 years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000. He also faces a credit card abuse charge in connection with the incident.

Sotolongo was arrested Dec. 11 in Baytown on an outstanding warrant.

A CID investigator assisted Baytown police with the investigation. The case is pending prosecution in Harris County.

Reynier Dominguez Alvarez, 30, of Katy was indicted for fraudulently purchasing diesel fuel at a Katy truck stop in late October without paying tax.

He is charged with motor fuels tax evasion, a second-degree felony punishable by two to 20 years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000. He also faces a credit card abuse charge in connection with the incident.

A CID investigator assisted Katy police with the investigation. The case is pending prosecution in Fort Bend County.

Dec. 14

Antonio Ledaryl Kirkland, 29, of Big Spring was arrested Jan. 2 for allegedly defrauding a car buyer out of $10,000 last May by misrepresenting his ownership of the vehicle and providing a title to a different auto.

Evidence shows that a Florida finance company holds the title and a lien on the 2009 BMW that was sold. It is being repossessed due to missed payments.

Kirkland is charged with fraudulent transfer of a motor vehicle and theft of property, both valued at less than $30,000. Each offense is a felony punishable by confinement in a state jail for six months up to two years.

The case is pending prosecution in Howard County.

Dec. 5

Alfredo Bardaji, 49, of Lewisville was arrested for allegedly receiving into his semi-tractor truck $500 worth of diesel fuel fraudulently obtained last May from a Carrollton propane company without paying back-up tax.

He is charged with motor fuels tax evasion, a second-degree felony punishable by two to 20 years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000.

A CID investigator assisted Carrollton police with the investigation. The case is pending prosecution in Dallas County.

Angel Ramon Batista Rodriguez, 29, of Dallas was arrested for allegedly using a stolen credit card at an Irving gas station last July to obtain more than $220 worth of diesel fuel without paying back-up tax. It was pumped into an auxiliary tank mounted in the bed of a pickup truck.

He is charged with motor fuels tax evasion, a second-degree felony punishable by two to 20 years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000.

A CID investigator assisted Carrollton police with the investigation. The case is pending prosecution in Dallas County.

November 2017

Nov. 30

Deborah Guillory Harris, 55, of Houston was indicted for allegedly falsifying a vehicle title application.

Harris, who does business as Success Auto, is charged with tampering with a government record. The offense is a-second-degree felony punishable by two to 10 years in prison and up to a $10,000 fine.

Her indictment was the culmination of an 18-month investigation prompted by a complaint from the Harris County Tax Assessor-Collector’s Office in January 2016.

The case is pending prosecution in Harris County.

Alejandro Vega-Torres, 34, of Hialeah, Fla. and Jorge Manual Batista-Gonzalez, 38, of Odessa were sentenced in mid-November of using dozens of re-encoded credit cards to steal large quantities of diesel fuel for resale.

Both defendants were sentenced to a year in federal prison and three years’ probation (non-reporting supervision). A separate felony fraud charge pending against each of them was dismissed in the plea agreements.

Vega-Torres and Batista-Gonzalez are the last of 10 members of a Cuban theft ring to be convicted in U.S. District Court in Midland on federal fraud and conspiracy charges.

Four members of the ring, all of Tampa, Fla., were sentenced in September and received sentences ranging from a year’s imprisonment to three years’ non-reporting probation. In October, four other co-defendants were sentenced and received sentences ranging from 10 to 18 months in prison, plus three years’ non-reporting probation.

All the defendants also were ordered to pay restitution equally among themselves of almost $47,000, plus special individual assessments of $100 apiece.

These individuals were prosecuted by the U. S. Attorney’s office in the Western District of Texas. The FBI’s Permian Basin Oilfield Theft Task Force assisted CID with the investigation.

Robert Wayne Reaves, 48, of Wills Point was arrested for allegedly possessing and reselling untaxed pipe tobacco purchased online from out of state without paying substantial amounts of Texas tobacco tax.

Investigators reported finding more than 1,600 ounces of illicit tobacco at a retail location in Terrell in late September. He is charged with possessing tobacco products on which more than $50 in taxes are due, a third-degree felony punishable by two to 10 years in prison and up to a $10,000 fine .

The case is pending prosecution in Kaufman County.

Carlos Miranda, 49, of Cleveland, Texas was indicted in mid-November for allegedly using a re-encoded gift card to unlawfully obtain diesel fuel at service stations in Caldwell in March.
The indictments charge Miranda with motor fuel tax evasion and transporting motor fuel without proper shipping documents. Each offense is a second-degree felony punishable by two to 20 years in prison and up to a $10,000 fine.

CID assisted the Caldwell Police Department in the investigation. The case is pending prosecution in Burleson County.

Oscar David Alderete-Ortiz, 39, of Denver City was convicted of obtaining approximately 100 gallons of diesel fuel without paying tax in late March.

He received deferred adjudication (no final conviction) and was sentenced to six years’ probation, a $6,000 fine, almost $6,100 in restitution and court costs.

Alderete-Ortiz pleaded guilty to motor fuel tax evasion, a second-degree felony punishable by two to 20 years in prison and up to a $10,000 fine. The second case, engaging in a motor fuel transaction without having a motor fuel transporter’s license was adjudicated pursuant to Penal Code section 12.45

The case was prosecuted in Yoakum County.

Nov. 27

Danny Everett Jenkins, 60, of Satin was convicted in early November of unlawfully using red-dye diesel by means of storing the fuel in a 55-gallon drum in the back of his pickup truck and using the untaxed diesel in his motor fuel supply tank, as well as possessing a small amount of meth (aka "speed").

He pleaded guilty to motor fuel tax evasion and received deferred adjudication (no final conviction). He was sentenced to five years’ community supervision and fined $1,500. He also pleaded guilty to controlled substance possession. His 730-day sentence was suspended in lieu of four years’ probation, and he was fined $180.

Evading or attempting to evade motor fuel tax is a second-degree felony punishable by two to 20 years in prison and up to a $10,000 fine. Dyed diesel fuel is untaxed diesel fuel for off-road use only and may not be used in vehicles operated on public roadways.

Possessing less than a gram of methamphetamine is a felony punishable by confinement in a state jail for six months up to two years. The Texas Highway Patrol investigated the drug possession case and contacted CID for assistance on the discovery of the motor fuel tax fraud incident.

The case was prosecuted in Tom Green County.

Billy Gerald Hill, 74, of Edinburg, was indicted in early November for allegedly stealing several thousands of dollars in motor vehicle taxes collected and misappropriating several thousands of dollars in title and registration fees collected.

The two-count indictment charges the motor vehicle dealer with failing to remit more than $20,000 but less than $100,000 in taxes collected on 67 vehicles sold in 2016 and 2017. The offense is a third-degree felony punishable by two to 10 years in prison and up to a $10,000 fine.

He also is charged with misapplication of fiduciary property for withholding more than $2,500 but less than $30,000 in fees. That offense is a felony punishable by confinement in a state jail for six months up to two years.

The case is pending prosecution in Hidalgo County.

Nov. 21

Dilip Mahta, 53, of Rockwall was arrested in late November for allegedly possessing and selling illicit pipe tobacco at his Quinlan convenience store for slightly more than the amount of the applicable but unpaid state tax.

He is charged with possessing tobacco products on which more than $50 in taxes are due, a third-degree felony punishable by two to 10 years in prison and up to a $10,000 fine. Proper invoices showing payment of tobacco tax were not provided, according to investigators.

The case is pending prosecution in Hunt County.

Nov. 13

Hector Suarez, 68, of Fort Stockton, a former Pecos County deputy tax assessor-collector, pleaded guilty to stealing almost $35,000 in motor vehicle sales tax payments over two years using falsified vehicle title applications.

He received deferred adjudication (no final conviction) and was sentenced in state district court to three years’ probation and 200 hours of community service. He also was ordered to pay court costs and $38,800 in restitution, of which $30,000 has been paid.

Suarez, who supervised the office’s motor vehicle tax section, pleaded guilty to all eight counts of tampering with a government record with intent to defraud or harm another , a second-degree felony punishable by two to 20 years in prison and up to a $10,000 fine; and to one count of theft by a public servant of more than $2,500 but less than $30,000, a third-degree felony punishable by two to 10 years in prison and up to a $10,000 fine.

The case was investigated jointly by the Texas Rangers and CID and prosecuted in Pecos County.

Nov. 9

Ahmad Ali Hasan, 54, of Carrollton was arrested for allegedly possessing illicit hookah tobacco at his non-permitted wholesale business in Dallas in June.

Hasan is charged with two tobacco products tax law violations alleging illegal possession and books & records violations. Each of them are third-degree felonies punishable by two to 10 years in prison and up to a $10,000 fine.

Back taxes well in excess of $50 were due, and investigators allege no valid invoices for purchase of the tobacco were produced.

The case is pending prosecution in Dallas County.

Nov. 7

Mui Thi Doan, 61, of Arlington was arrested for allegedly possessing 11 packs of illicit imported cigarettes at her restaurant and failing to produce valid invoices for their purchase.

She is charged with two tobacco products tax law violations: books & records, a third-degree felony punishable by two to 10 years in prison and up to a $10,000 fine; and possessing fewer than 10,000 unstamped cigarettes, a class A misdemeanor punishable by up to a year in jail, a fine of up to $4,000 or both.

The case is pending prosecution in Tarrant County.

October 2017

Oct. 31, 2017

Nizar Noorali Raiyyani, 42, of Carrollton was sentenced in mid-September to 90 days in jail for operating an eight-liner machine without a license in February and lying to a state police investigator who was investigating the machine and its location.

The unlicensed device, similar to an electronic slot machine, was located in the "Lucky4Lucky" game room in Dallas. Raiyyani misled CID officers about the ownership of the business as well as some of the machines.

Raiyyani pleaded no contest and was convicted of operating a coin-operated amusement machine without a license, a class A misdemeanor punishable by up to a year in jail, a fine of up to $4,000 or both; and of making a false statement to a peace officer, a class B misdemeanor punishable by up to 180 days in jail, a fine of up to $2,000 or both. He received 38 days’ credit for jail time served.

The case was prosecuted in Dallas County.

Oct. 27, 2017

Daniel Lee Allen, 61, of Cleburne was arrested for allegedly using his son’s employer's company credit card to make several unlicensed purchases of dyed diesel fuel for a tractor truck in late 2016. Dyed diesel is nontaxable only for off-road or agricultural use by permit-holders.

Allen and his son, Jonathan Daniel Allen, 36, also of Cleburne, are each charged with motor fuel tax evasion and purchasing fuel with intent to evade tax, both second-degree felonies punishable by imprisonment for two to 20 years and a fine of up to $10,000. They also are charged with engaging in a motor fuel transaction without a permit, a third-degree felony punishable by imprisonment for two to 10 years and a fine of up to $10,000.

The case is pending prosecution in Johnson County.

Oct. 26, 2017

Former lawman Michael Saavedra, 37, of El Paso pleaded guilty to stealing more than $3,000 from the Anthony American Legion in late 2014 and early 2015 and approximately $5,800 from the Anthony Texas Police Officers Association in the spring of 2015.

The former Anthony police officer and association president was sentenced in state district court to 90 days in jail, five years’ probation and 250 hours of community service. He was ordered to pay $724 in court costs and restitution in an amount yet to be determined.

Saavedra received deferred adjudication (no final conviction) for two felony offenses: theft of property and misapplying fiduciary/financial property, both valued at more than $1,500 but less than $20,000. Each crime was punishable by confinement in a state jail for six months up to two years.

The case was investigated jointly by the Texas Rangers and CID and prosecuted in El Paso County.

Oct. 24, 2017

Yoandi Emiliano Quezada Valdez, 33, of Dallas was arrested on charges of using another person’s credit card last August to acquire more than 78 gallons of diesel fuel worth more than $184 from a fuel business in order to avoid paying tax.

Valdez is one of two suspects alleged to have pumped diesel into a tank in the bed of his pickup truck, which investigators say is not a diesel-powered vehicle.

He is charged with two counts of purchasing motor fuel with intent to evade tax, a second-degree felony punishable by imprisonment for two to 20 years and a fine of up to $10,000.

CID is assisting the Carrollton Police Department in the investigation of the case, which is pending in Dallas County.

Cody Raymond-Michael Johnson, 27, of Caddo Mills was indicted for lying on a vehicle title application by understating its purchase price.

The owner of Big City Auto Sales allegedly entered incorrect information on applications for two of eight vehicles purchased from his dealership by a communications company.

Johnson is charged with falsifying a vehicle title application, a third-degree felony punishable by imprisonment for two to 10 years and a fine of up to $10,000.

The case is pending prosecution in Rockwall County.

Oct. 23, 2017

Luis Ochoa Cabrera, 57, of Seguin pleaded guilty in September to motor fuel tax evasion and was sentenced last month to five years’ deferred adjudication (no final conviction), 200 hours of community service and ordered to pay a $1,500 fine, $353 in court costs and restitution in an amount yet to be determined.

Cabrera admitted to evading motor fuel tax, a second-degree felony punishable by two to 20 years in prison and up to a $10,000 fine. He used re-encoded credit cards to illegally acquire approximately 59 gallons of diesel fuel from a Pflugerville convenience store in 2016.

The case was prosecuted in Travis County.

Yonar Bello Lopez, 33, of Austin pleaded guilty to motor fuel tax evasion and was sentenced to eight years’ probation, 300 hours of community service and a $2,000 fine.

The offense is a second-degree felony punishable by two to 20 years in prison and up to a $10,000 fine.

Lopez was arrested in August for using a re-encoded charge card to pump approximately 60 gallons of diesel fuel worth $150 into an auxiliary tank in the bed of a pickup truck at an Austin convenience store without paying backup motor fuels tax.

An additional charge of transporting motor fuel without proper documentation and/or licensing was dismissed in the plea agreement, along with a separate, similar indictment.

The case was prosecuted in Travis County.

Oct. 20, 2017

Four members of a Cuban theft ring were sentenced in U.S. District Court in Midland after previously pleading guilty to federal fraud and conspiracy charges for allegedly using dozens of re-encoded credit cards to steal large quantities of diesel fuel for resale.

Convicted of conspiring to fraudulently use an access device were Michel Sarmiento, 37, of Miami, Fla; Andy Cruz-Leyva, 46 of Tampa, Fla.; and Livan Sanchez, 39, of Odessa. Sandra Alva Escobar-Carballosa, 31, also of Odessa, was convicted of access device fraud.

Sarmiento and Cruz-Leyva each were sentenced to 13 months in federal prison. Sarmiento will serve his term concurrently with another sentence in a related state motor fuel tax fraud felony case. Sanchez received 18 months in federal prison and Escobar-Carballosa, 10 months. Subsequently, all four defendants will be on three years’ non-reporting supervised release.

The defendants also were ordered to pay restitution equally among themselves of almost $47,000, plus special $100 individual assessments.

A separate fraud charge pending against each defendant was dismissed in the plea agreement.

Four other members of the ring, all of Tampa, Fla., pleaded guilty in September and received sentences ranging from a year in federal prison to three years’ non-reporting probation.

Roger Marcelo Garcia Rodriguez, 31, of Houston pleaded guilty to using a re-encoded credit card to fraudulently obtain diesel fuel in April and was sentenced to 170 days in jail.

Rodriguez originally was indicted for evading motor fuel taxes by failing to pay backup tax on a transaction, a second-degree felony punishable by two to 20 years in prison and up to a $10,000 fine.

Based on Rodriguez’ cooperation with authorities, prosecutors reduced the charge to fraudulent use of identifying information, a felony punishable by confinement in a state jail for six months up to two years. He received 87 days’ credit for jail time served.

The case was prosecuted in Harris County.

Oct. 19, 2017

Lazaro Abreu-Aliaga, 53, of Austin pleaded guilty in September to credit card abuse and was sentenced in October to two years’ deferred adjudication (no final conviction), a $1,500 fine and 80 hours of community service.

The offense is punishable by confinement in a state jail for six months up to two years and a maximum fine of $10,000.

Abreu-Aliaga was under indictment for motor fuel tax evasion and transporting motor fuel without proper shipping documents, both second-degree felonies punishable by two to 20 years in prison and up to a $10,000 fine. Those charges were dismissed in the plea agreement.

He was arrested in April for using re-encoded gift cards to illegally acquire diesel fuel. The case was prosecuted in Travis County.

Oct. 13, 2017

Naser A. Yacoub, 39, of Sherman pleaded guilty Oct. 13 to concealing and/or destroying shipping records related to untaxed tobacco products he had purchased in 2010.

Yacoub received three years’ deferred adjudication (no final conviction), a $500 fine and was ordered to pay $25,000 in restitution and perform 75 hours of community service. He could have been imprisoned for two to 10 years and fined up to $10,000 for the third-degree felony.

Four other felony charges against him were dismissed in the plea agreement accepted in state district court.

The case was prosecuted in Grayson County.

Oct. 2, 2017

Four members of a Cuban theft ring pleaded guilty September 15 in U.S. District Court in Midland to federal fraud and conspiracy charges for allegedly using dozens of re-encoded credit cards to steal large quantities of diesel fuel for resale.

Among those arrested in February in Midland are Juan Andelmo Bermudez, 47; Omero Lazaro Barbeito-Lastre, 44; Eduardo Tamayo-Pupo, 36; and Jose Angel Leyva-Oliva, 43, all of Tampa, Fla.

Bermudez and Tamayo-Pupo each were sentenced to a year in federal prison and Leyva-Oliva to six months in federal prison. Barbeito-Lastre to three years’ non-reporting probation. In addition, Bermudez and Tamayo-Pupo were sentenced to three years’ supervised release and Leyva-Oliva to three years’ non-reporting supervised release.

The defendants also were ordered to pay restitution equally among themselves of almost $47,000 plus special $100 individual assessments.

Oct. 1, 2017

Jesus Medeles-Jurado, 47, of San Elizario pleaded guilty September 21 to fraudulently using a stolen company gas card on several occasions to fuel his personal vehicle after quitting his job.

He was convicted in a Midland County district court of motor fuel tax evasion, a second-degree felony punishable by two to 20 years in prison and up to a $10,000 fine.

Under a plea agreement, Medeles-Jurado received deferred adjudication (no final conviction) and was sentenced to 10 years’ probation, fined $1,000 plus court costs and 250 hours of community service.

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