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Former Southbridge resident sentenced to 22 years in jail for homebuyers tax-credit fraud

A former Southbridge resident was sentenced Thursday to nearly 22 years in prison for his involvement in a fraud scam related to the federal first-time homebuyer tax credit program.

Junior A. Lopez, also known as Ace, was sentenced in US District Court in Worcester for his involvement in a 2008 scam involving more than 50 fraudulent tax forms and $500,000 in refunds, prosecutors said.

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He pleaded guilty last year to fraud-related charges linked to the federal program, which was aimed at stimulating the sluggish US housing market.

Coconspirator Christopher Proe, 27, of Michigan was sentenced in March to more than 7 years in prison after he pleaded guilty to his involvement in the fraud.

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According to prosecutors, Proe and Lopez filed false tax returns with the Internal Revenue Service claiming that certain homeowners qualified for the tax credit in 2008. But many of the addresses did not exist, or were abandoned or vacant homes.

The IRS was directed to deposit the refunds into accounts controlled by the two men, prosecutors said.

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