Clay County men indicted in tax refund fraud

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - Two Clay County men were indicted Friday on one count of conspiracy, six counts of theft of government property and six counts of aggravated identity theft.

If convicted, Antoun Arbaji and Abas Issa each faces a maximum penalty of five years in federal prison for the conspiracy charge, up to 10 years for each theft of government property charge, and two consecutive years for each aggravated identity theft charge. Arbaji faces an additional charge of making a false statement to the Department of the Treasury for which he could receive an additional five years in federal prison.

According to the indictment, Issa obtained tax refund checks that were the result of fraudulently filed tax returns that had been prepared by others, using stolen personal identification information. Many of the returns were prepared using the identities of deceased individuals, according to the indictment.

Arbaji operated a convenience store called Fina Express in Green Cove Springs. According to the indictment, Issa provided the fraudulent refund checks to Arbaji, who cashed them using his business, in exchange for a fee, and Arbaji then provided the proceeds to Issa. In 2011, Fina Express allegedly cashed 212 fraudulent treasury checks totaling more than $1.5 million, according to the indictment.

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