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A Queens Village resident and Haitian immigrant who worked as a tax preparer was sentenced to 2 1/3 to seven years in prison last week after he stole the identity of one of his clients, who was also Haitian, to open multiple credit cards for expenses associated with a pub he owns in Queens Village, Queens District Attorney Richard Brown said.
Jean Tout-Puissant, 51, of 220-31 100th Drive in Queens Village, was convicted of grand larceny, identity theft and falsifying business records after a seven-day jury trial last month before Queens Supreme Court Justice James P. Griffin, who sentenced Tout-Puissant last week to 2 1/3 to seven years in prison, the DA said.
Tout-Puissant used personal identifying information of Louis A. Beaujuin, 65, whose income tax returns he had prepared for the years 1996 through 2006, to fraudulently open up six business accounts for the El Millenium Pub in Queens Village under Beaujuin’s name and added his own name to the account as an authorized user, Brown said, citing trial testimony.
When Tout-Puissant applied for the credit cards, he said Beaujuin earned $150,000 a year as president of El Millenium Pub even though Beaujuin had no association with the pub, never earned more than $35,000 a year and at the time of the credit applications had been retired for three years and had a small pension and Social Security Benefits, the DA said.
Tout-Puissant then used the credit cards to withdraw $200,000 in cash advances and make purchases at restaurants and shops, including Victoria’s Secret, Brown said.
“Our immigrant communities here in Queens can be especially vulnerable to deception and fraud. Often, in order to protect themselves, immigrants will limit their business dealings to individuals from their own community,” the DA said. “In this particular case, the victim is alleged to have implicitly trusted the defendant who was Haitian like himself and had prepared the tax returns of other Haitians. As a result, the victim put his faith and finances in the hands of the defendant who betrayed his trust and ripped them off.”
The investigation into Tout-Puissant began after Beaujin filed a complaint when he started receiving bills in the mail that did not correspond to any accounts he was aware of having opened, Brown said.
“As we enter tax season, all consumers should be very careful as to whom they entrust their most intimate financial details — such as their names, date of births and Social Security numbers,” the DA said. “Such information is worth more than money to an individual intent on committing fraud and could cause a consumer financial headaches for years.”
Reach reporter Howard Koplowitz by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 718-260-4573.
©2011 Community Newspaper Group
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