Lexington woman is accused of embezzlement and filing fake tax returns, living lavishly on proceeds

jwarren@herald-leader.comFebruary 5, 2014 

Police are seeking a Lexington woman accused of embezzling thousands of dollars from an apartment complex and faking tax returns and bank loans to support a lavish lifestyle on a $40,000 income.

Yarelis Rios is wanted on outstanding arrest warrants, Lexington police spokeswoman Sherelle Roberts said Wednesday. She said she couldn't comment further or detail the charges involved. But a federal affidavit filed in U.S. District Court in Lexington states that "there is an active state arrest warrant for Rios regarding her embezzlement ... and she remains a fugitive."

Rios vanished in December, shortly after police and federal agents began an investigation, the affidavit says.

Now, federal prosecutors contend that Rios' home on Rockminster Road "represents proceeds of forged checks, identity theft, wire fraud and money laundering," according to a complaint filed by Assistant U.S. Attorney Wade Napier. Prosecutors are seeking to have the property forfeited to the government.

An affidavit filed by U.S. Secret Service Agent Nevada Gump in support of the complaint describes how Rios allegedly bought a $425,000 home, expensive vehicles, big-screen TVs, home appliances and large quantities of brand-name clothing, jewelry, watches and accessories on a reported annual income of $40,000.

The affidavit says Rios embezzled thousands of dollars from Thoroughbred Cross apartments on Village Drive, which she managed starting about March 2012. It also alleges that Rios completed fake income tax returns using people's names — apparently without their knowledge — and arranged for $313,000 in tax refunds to go into bank accounts controlled by her and her boyfriend, Artemio Ultrera Pimentel.

In addition, Rios used faked W-2 forms, altered pay stubs and faked bank statements to help secure an $80,000 home loan from Whitaker Bank, the affidavit says.

According to Gump's affidavit, the case began unfolding in early December, when Lexington police Detective Mike Helsby requested federal assistance with an "embezzlement case that had evolved into identity fraud and wire fraud."

Gump's affidavit said Rios had several Thoroughbred Cross tenants make full rent payments in cash, then recorded lesser amounts in the business's ledgers and kept the difference, according to the affidavit.

Rios and Pimentel also allegedly accepted money orders from Thoroughbred Crossing tenants, then forged more money orders and deposited them in bank accounts they controlled. Money from these accounts, plus the $80,000 Whitaker Bank loan, made up an $111,826 down payment on the Rockminster Road home, the affidavit says.

Police searched Rios' home in early December. Inside, they found televisions, clothing, jewelry, watches, thousands of dollars' worth of new tools and a $6,000 riding mower, Gump's affidavit says.

Rios was not home when police arrived. But police found her boyfriend, Pimentel, inside the house. He was arrested after officers found that he had a counterfeit U.S. resident alien ID card, Gump's affidavit says. Pimentel later was deported to Mexico after authorities determined that he was a non-immigrant alien with a previous felony conviction, according to the affidavit.

The affidavit says that other items found in Rios' home included altered pay stubs, apparently fraudulent tax returns, and a fraudulent W-2 form indicating that Rios made $124,000 in 2012, instead of her actual pay of $40,000.

According to the affidavit, police also found numbers of tax returns with various Hispanics' names and personal information, which had been filed using TurboTax. All but three returns directed that refunds should go to U.S. bank accounts belonging to Rios and Pimentel, the affidavit says.

Jim Warren: (859) 231-3255.

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