California man pleads guilty to wire fraud and conspiracy

 

Date: January 26, 2021

Contact: newsroom@ci.irs.gov

Boston — A California man pleaded guilty today in federal court in Worcester to federal tax and fraud charges arising from his role with various Worcester-based employment agencies, announced Ramsey E. Covington, Acting Special Agent in Charge of the Internal Revenue Service's Criminal Investigation in Boston.

Julio Lopez of Los Angeles, Calif., and formerly of Worcester, pleaded guilty to two counts of wire fraud and one count of conspiring to defraud the United States. Lopez was charged in December 2020. U.S. District Court Judge Timothy S. Hillman scheduled sentencing for April 27, 2021.

Lopez worked for Worcester-based employment agencies Bay State, Prime Labor and UT Services. Bay State misrepresented the number of its employees and the wages earned by such employees and failed to report cash wages to the IRS and to its workers compensation insurance carrier. In 2016, in connection with a client audit, another Bay State employee fabricated payroll documents that falsely showed that deductions were taken from employees' paychecks for payroll taxes, and Lopez provided these fabricated documents to the client.

After Bay State ceased operations in approximately November 2017, Lopez was involved in shifting certain Bay State clients to UT Services, an agency controlled by Tam Vuong. Thereafter, Lopez and, allegedly, Vuong, engaged in a scheme to defraud by misrepresenting the number of employees who worked for UT Services and the wages earned by such employees. UT Services paid most of its employees in cash and then failed to report those employees and the cash wages to the IRS and to its workers compensation insurance carrier. During the time he worked for UT Services, Lopez knew that federal law enforcement was investigating the cash payroll practices of various employment agencies, and used an email address associated with a fake name so that that his own name would not be tied to UT Services.

In August 2019, Vuong was indicted on fraud and tax charges in connection with his oversight of UT Services and Prime Labor and is scheduled to stand trial on Sept. 7, 2021.

The charges of wire fraud provide for a sentence of up to 20 years in prison, three years of supervised release and a fine of $250,000. The conspiracy charge provides for a sentence of up to five years in prison, three years of supervised release and a fine of $250,000. Sentences are imposed by a federal district court judge based on the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.

Assistant U.S. Attorneys Bill Abely, Chief of Lelling's Criminal Division, and Ian Stearns of Lelling's Securities, Financial & Cyber Fraud Unit are prosecuting the case.

The details contained in the charging documents are allegations. The remaining defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.