Brooklyn Federal Court

IRS Agent Accused of Identity Theft, Wire Fraud; Allegedly Forged Docs to Buy NY Co-op

The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) building in Washington, D.C.
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What to Know

  • An Internal Revenue Service agent in New York City was arrested by the FBI on various charges, including identity theft and wire fraud in connection with the purchase of a co-op apartment, News 4 New York learned.
  • According to a 10-count indictment unsealed in federal court in Brooklyn, Bryan Cho, also known as “Yong Hee Cho,” is charged with possession of a fake foreign passport, aggravated identity theft, making false statements during a background check and wire fraud in connection with the purchase of a side co-op apartment.
  • If convicted of the top count, wire fraud, Cho faces up to 20 years’ imprisonment. Attorney information for Cho was not immediately known.

An Internal Revenue Service agent in New York City was arrested by the FBI on various charges, including identity theft and wire fraud in connection with the purchase of a co-op apartment, News 4 New York learned.

Bryan Cho, who has been an IRS agent since 2008, appeared in Eastern District of New York federal court Tuesday afternoon, where he pleaded not guilty. He was ordered detained.

According to a 10-count indictment unsealed in federal court in Brooklyn, Cho, also known as “Yong Hee Cho,” is charged with possession of a fake foreign passport, aggravated identity theft, making false statements during a background check and wire fraud in connection with the purchase of a side co-op apartment.

If convicted of the top count, wire fraud, Cho faces up to 20 years’ imprisonment. Attorney information for Cho was not immediately known.

Cho, 49 and of Manhattan, allegedly worked an IRS-related investigation of a man that did not lead to charges. Though the investigation was eventually closed, Cho allegedly retained items he obtained during the investigation and used the man's information to create false identification documents in the man's name and open a corporate entity overseas, including for the Phillipines, Guinea-Bissau and Marshall Islands.

Additionally, federal prosecutors say he submitted forged documents when he tried to buy an Upper East Side co-op. The documents allegedly included falsified tax returns and bank statements that inflated his income and assets in an attempt to secure the co-op board’s approval for the purchase, and funneled hundreds of thousands of dollars from a foreign bank account associated with an entity Cho created using the identity of the man he previously investigated in his role with the IRS in order to fund the purchase.

“As alleged, the defendant repeatedly betrayed the trust placed in him as a federal law enforcement officer to further his own schemes by misusing information to which he had access by virtue of his official assignments,” Acting United States Attorney Seth DuCharme said in a statement, adding that the "charges show that no one is above the law."

FBI Assistant Director-in-Charge William Sweeney shared similar sentiments saying in a statement that the charges against Cho "are a reminder that no one is beyond the reach of our corruption laws."

“The public places a great deal of trust in those who carry a shield, but when
sworn federal officers use this as a free pass instead of a badge of honor, things go awry," Sweeney's statement read in part.

Cho's defense attorney, Marshall Miller, told the judge that the government's charges are the result of "a misunderstanding."

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