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Men sentenced in $25 million tax fraud, drug conspiracy

By Hope Miller 6:04 PM December 30, 2013

Joel Santana-Pierna and Abel Santana-Pierna pled guilty to conspiracy to distribute cocaine and conspiracy to defraud the government

ANCHORAGE – Two citizens of the Dominican Republic living in Alaska were sentenced Monday for their involvement in planning and carrying out large-scale drug trafficking and tax fraud conspiracies, according to prosecutors.

Joel Santana-Pierna and Abel Santana-Pierna pled guilty to conspiracy to distribute cocaine and conspiracy to defraud the government. Joel Santana-Pierna is facing 11 years and three months in prison and his brother Abel Santana-Pierna will serve six years, prosecutors said in a statement.

In addition to the prison sentences, the brothers must pay $559,755 in restitution to the Internal Revenue Service. They also agreed to fork over about $130,000 to the U.S., which was money obtained through their-drug-trafficking activities, the statement said.

From January 2010 to March 2012, Joel Santana-Pierna led his conspirators, including his brother, in distributing cocaine in the Anchorage area, according to court documents. He also arranged to import more than two kilograms of the drug into Alaska.

According to the Alaska State Troopers 2012 annual drug report, cocaine in Alaska is normally sold in gram quantities for $100-$150.

Along with the cocaine-smuggling scheme, the Santana-Pierna brothers conspired to use stolen Puerto Rican identities to file bogus tax returns to obtain “large income tax refunds to which they were not entitled,” the statement said.

People involved in the tax fraud scheme were able to steal the identities of 3,000 individuals, most of whom were Puerto Rican citizens. Using the stolen information, the Santana-Pierna brothers and co-conspirators submitted false returns to the IRS.

The U.S. estimates the total loss planed by conspiracy members was more than $25 million.

Ten other people were indicted and two former Wells Fargo employees were sentenced. Other co-conspirators await sentencing and one person is still a fugitive, prosecutors said.


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