Feds: Hoboken woman pleads guilty to stealing $1.5M from nonprofits and schools


A Hoboken woman has pleaded guilty to stealing $1.5 million from nonprofit entities, schools, and religious institutions in New York and New Jersey, U.S. Attorney Philip Sellinger announced.

By John Heinis/Hudson County View

Yezenia Castillo, 46, of Hoboken, pleaded guilty before U.S District Judge Susan D. Wigenton, to an information charging her with one count each of wire fraud and tax evasion.

From 2012 through 2021, Castillo falsely claimed to be a CPA who could provide various financial and accounting services to non-profit organizations throughout New Jersey, including private schools and religious institutions.

Castillo was not a CPA and never provided any of these promised services.

After she was hired, Castillo used various ways to steal from her clients, including collecting fees for services that she never performed and transferring client funds to herself without authorization.

Castillo also collected funds from clients by falsely claiming she would use it to pay their taxes, but she instead kept the money.

To conceal her fraud, Castillo told victims that she had filed and paid their taxes, and she falsified receipts to make it appear to the victims as if their taxes were paid. Castillo defrauded over 100 victims, resulting in financial losses totaling over $1.5 million.

According to the criminal complaint, Castillo owned three businesses: Y. Castillo, P.C., Castillo Heating and Cooling Corporation, and Hudson Accounting Services and maintained 29 separate bank accounts.

One victim organization, only identified as a religious institution in Glendale, New York, allegedly transferred about $200,000 to Castillo between 2016 and 2020 to cover their business taxes, which she instead directed into her bank accounts.

She also charged them more than $14,000 for the preparation and filing of their taxes during that time frame, and also allegedly stole an additional $7,000 from the account in 2019.

A nearly identical situation occurred with a Jersey City school between 2016 and 2018, where Castillo received $195,000 to submit to the IRS to pay their federal business taxes.

In this instance, she charged $8,100 for tax preparation and filing services and took an additional $8,000 without permission in 2016.

Furthermore, federal prosecutors allege that Castillo owes approximately $355,000 in individual back taxes between the years 2014 and 2020, as well as $82,000 in business back taxes between 2016 and 2020.

In March 2020, Castillo was charged with embezzling over $33,000 from an affordable housing nonprofit in Englewood.

The charge of wire fraud carries a maximum potential penalty of 20 years in prison and $250,000 fine, or twice the gross gain or loss from the offense, whichever is greatest.

Additionally, the charge of tax evasion carries a maximum potential penalty of five years in prison and a $250,000 fine. Sentencing is scheduled for Aug. 7, 2023.

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