Providence man pleads guilty to identity theft

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) — A Providence man has pleaded guilty to participating in a scheme that collected the personal information of more than 1,200 people and used many of the identities to file fraudulent tax returns totaling more than $1.8 million.

The U.S. attorney’s office said Friday 22-year-old Julian Balbi pleaded guilty to four counts of aggravated identity theft and one count each of conspiracy and theft of government property.

Rhode Island State Police arrested Balbi and a co-defendant, Richard Lara, 22, of Providence, after a routine traffic stop in January 2012. Prosecutors say there were 87 U.S. Treasury checks made out to third parties inside the vehicle.

Lara is awaiting trial on aggravated identity theft, conspiracy and theft of government property charges. Balbi is scheduled to be sentenced Sept. 18.

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