WASHINGTON – A former Chelan Falls, Washington, man was extradited from Mexico to serve a 30-month prison sentence he received in absentia almost five years ago for filing a fraudulent tax return.
According to documents filed with the court, from 2009 through 2012, Jose L. Echeverria owned and operated a produce sales business. Echeverria filed fraudulent individual income tax returns with the IRS for these years, underreporting the income he received from his business by a total of $564,292. During this timeframe, Echeverria wired hundreds of thousands of dollars in unreported income to an account in Mexico that he used to purchase land, vacation homes, and vehicles for his personal use.
Following Echeverria’s guilty plea to filing a false tax return in February 2017, the district court granted him permission to travel to Mexico for two months while he awaited sentencing. Echevarria, however, did not return to the United States for the sentencing hearing. On September 25, 2017, U.S. District Judge Lonny R. Suko sentenced Echeverria in absentia to 30 months in prison, one year of supervised release, and $183,191 in restitution to the IRS.
Court records show that Echeverria resided in Mexico as a fugitive for nearly five years until he was arrested by Mexican authorities pursuant to an extradition warrant. On February 10, 2022, Mexico surrendered Echeverria to the custody of the U.S. Marshals Service pursuant to the extradition treaty between the United States and Mexico. Echeverria has been detained without bond pending the execution of his sentence.
The United States is grateful to the Government of Mexico for its cooperation and support of the extradition request in this matter. Deputy Assistant Attorney General Stuart M. Goldberg of the Justice Department’s Tax Division announced the most recent developments in this case.
Vanessa R. Waldref, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Washington, noted that even the delays caused by Mr. Echeverria were not enough to prevent justice from being served:
“The only way to ensure a safe and strong community in Eastern Washington is for everyone in society to pay their fair share. Mr. Echeverria defrauded the government and his fellow citizens out of nearly $200,000 in taxes, spent that money on land in Mexico, vacation homes, and personal vehicles, and fled from justice for almost five years. It is sometimes said that justice delayed is justice denied, but this case illustrates a different adage – that the only absolutes in life are death and taxes. Mr. Echeverria learned today that he could run, but he could not hide: he fought the
law, and the law won.”
IRS-Criminal Investigation conducted the investigation. The Justice Department’s Office of International Affairs, the U.S. Marshals Service and the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Washington provided significant assistance.
Trial attorney Michael Landman and former trial attorneys Lisa L. Bellamy and Gregory Bernstein of the Tax Division, and Assistant U.S. Attorney Michael Ellis, prosecuted the case.