FT. LAUDERDALE (CBSMiami) – A Tamarac man is behind bars after he was charged with ten counts of identity theft.
According to Broward Sheriff’s investigators, Marc Sainte Juste, 45, was detained at Ft. Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport after he arrived on flight from Haiti. During a secondary examination by U.S. Customs, the agent noticed a bulge in Saint Juste right front pants pocket. Sainte Juste removed the object, which turned out to be an envelope, from his pocket at the agent’s request.
When the agent asked him to show what was inside, Saint Juste surprised the .
“When they asked him to turn over the envelope, you allegedly started eating the contents,” Judge John Hurley said in court Monday. “Most people would say that was unusual in an airport.”
According the arrest report, when the envelope contents were removed from Saint Juste mouth they turned out to be U.S. Treasury tax refund checks. Each check had a person’s name on it along with an address; the addresses ranged from Miami to Lake Worth. The Broward Sheriff’s Office said the checks totaled more than $66,000.
During questioning Sainte Juste reportedly said that he was given the checks from individuals in Haiti and instructed to turn them over to someone at the airport. According to the arrest report, Sainte Juste said he was supposed to get 25 percent of the money for transporting to Ft. Lauderdale.
During his first appearance before Judge Hurley, he was placed on an immigration hold and bond was denied.
Sainte-Juste’s story isn’t rare in a growing are of crime, especially in South Florida.
“It’s a major problem, identity theft and tax fraud,” said Broward Sheriff’s Office Detective Mitchell Gordon. “The checks are usually sent to United States addresses. For them to send it to Haiti, and bring it back tot he United States is rare.”
Last week, Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Shcultz said she would introduce legislation to make it more difficult to file bogus tax returns and to increase penalties on income tax ID fraud.