MIAMI (CBSMiami) – A 21-year-old man who’s charged with killing three people in Broward including a 2-month-old boy is facing new federal charges.
U.S. Attorney Wifredo Ferrer told CBS4’s Peter D’Oench that Lineten Belizaire was one of 40 defendants charged with trying to bilk the federal government of millions of dollars through identity theft and filing false tax claims.
“What we’re seeing is more and more gangs getting involved with such activity because it is lucrative, easy and less dangerous,” said Ferrer. “This type of crime is pervasive and it is everywhere. Today’s cases reaffirm the joint federal and local commitment to crack down on stolen identity tax refund fraud perpetrators.”
Ferrer said Florida had the highest rate of identity theft in the U.S. in 2011. He said the identity theft rate in Miami has reached “near epidemic proportions.” Ferrer said the number of false returns based on identity theft in Miami was a staggering 46 times the national average.
The U.S. Attorney’s Office in Miami says Lineten “Link” Belizaire and his uncles, Earnest Baldwin, 37 and Earl Baldwin,41, and Marckell Steward, 21, all of Miami, were charged in a 17-count indictment for participating in a stolen identity tax refund scheme in which they submitted $1 million in false refund claims.
Belizaire and his co-conspirators are charged with aggravated identity theft, conspiracy to submit fraudulent claims to the government and access device fraud. They reportedly submitted hundreds of false claims.
The U.S. Attorney’s Office said Earnest Baldwin allegedly possessed several notebooks, containing more than one thousand names and corresponding dates of birth and Social Security numbers which appeared to be tax refund ledgers.
Belizaire is being held without bond after a court appearance and will face another hearing next Tuesday.
His attorney Alex Michaels told CBS4’s Peter D’Oench that Belizaire is set to go to trial in state court in Broward in December.
Belizaire faces 2nd degree murder charges from last August after the Broward Sheriffs Office says he shot and killed his former girlfriend, Octavia Barnett, 21, her roommate Natasha Plummer, 25, and Plummer’s 2-month-old boy, Carlton Stringer, Jr.
D’Oench spoke with Pamela Plummer, the step-mother of Natasha Plummer, who told she is still distraught after losing Natasha and Carlton.
“It’s very difficult,” she said.
“It’s upsetting to hear about the latest charges?” D’Oench asked her.
“Yes, it is,” she replied.
“Your daughter was such a good person?” D’Oench asked her.
“Yes, she was,” she replied.
Belizaire’s attorney Alex Michaels took issue with the latest charges.
“I’m very upset,” said Michaels. “I think the federal government is trying to obstruct due process and violate my client’s rights to a fair and speedy trial in state court. It’s wrong. It smells and it doesn’t pass the smell test.”
“There is collusion between the state, the Broward Sheriff’s Office and the federal government,” said Michaels.
The U.S. Attorney responded to those charges, telling D’Oench, “There is no collusion in this case. It is clearly separate from the case involving the triple homicide.”
Ferrer said cracking down on identity theft and filing false tax returns was a top priority.
He said the message was that lawbreakers would be “brought to justice.”