Hoboken woman gets 5 years in prison for stealing $1.5M from nonprofits & schools


A Hoboken woman was sentenced to five years in prison for stealing $1.5 million from nonprofits, schools, and religious institutions in New York and New Jersey, U.S. Attorney Philip Sellinger announced.

By John Heinis/Hudson County View

Yezenia Castillo, 47, of Hoboken, pleaded guilty in April before U.S District Judge Susan D. Wigenton, to an information charging her with one count each of wire fraud and tax evasion. Wigenton imposed the sentence today in Newark federal court.

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.

In addition to the prison term, Wigenton sentenced Castillo to three years of supervised release and ordered restitution of $3.25 million and forfeiture of $3.25 million.

Sellinger credited special agents of the FBI, special agents of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, Office of the Inspector General, and special agents of IRS – Criminal Investigation, with the investigation leading to the sentencing.

The government is represented by Assistant U.S. Attorney Blake Coppotelli of the U.S. Attorney’s Office Economic Crimes Unit.

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