A Maryland man who was already facing charges in a conspiracy to smuggle drugs and other contraband into the Roxbury Correctional Institution with drones is now accused of forging a court order, electronically faxing it to the clerk’s office and impersonating a representative of the Baltimore State’s Attorney’s Office to try to get out of prison early.
Jose Tapia also faces additional allegations that he used a contraband cellphone and pretended to be dozens of people — including disguising his voice to mimic elderly women — in what prosecutors described as a “complex identity theft scheme.”
Tapia, 37, is charged in two new cases in Washington County Circuit Court with 53 counts, including obstruction of justice, forgery and identity theft scheme.
“If it had been successful, this inmate’s complex scheme to impersonate government officials could have resulted in his escape from confinement and in his theft of numerous identities that could have cost several people serious financial loss,” Maryland Attorney General Anthony Brown said in a statement. “I highly commend the vigilant correctional staff and law enforcement officers who intervened and put a stop to this ploy, underscoring the critical role that they play in preserving the security and well-being of our communities.”
From Jan. 1, 2022, through Nov. 5, 2022, Tapia assumed the identities of dozens of people to exploit them and steal their money, prosecutors allege. He also impersonated representatives of various hospitals to try to gain access to their email systems and finances.
Tapia, prosecutors assert, targeted a business known as Echo Health or QuicRemit that provides payments to hospitals and health care providers.
Meanwhile, Tapia forged a commitment order that purported to give him an additional 449 days of credit, emailed it to the Maryland Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services, and electronically faxed the fake document to the clerk of Baltimore Circuit Court, prosecutors claim.
The Maryland Office of the Attorney General in court documents outlined numerous calls that Tapia made to corrections employees, including ones during which he stated that he was going to send a Starbucks gift card in appreciation for their help.
Later, Tapia called while pretending to be a representative of the Baltimore State’s Attorney’s Office and asked the clerk’s office to process the order, prosecutors reported. But an employee recognized that the call was fake.
During the conversation on Oct. 18, 2022, Tapia offered at one point to reach out to his “secretary” and then call back, prosecutors reported.
“Um, no, that’s not necessary,” the employee replied, “I mean, actually it looks like everything is forged, it’s not letterhead, it’s no nothing, so I’m just gonna turn everything over to the state’s attorney’s office and AG’s office and let them deal with it, thank you, you have a good day.”
In 2013, Tapia pleaded guilty in Baltimore Circuit Court to conspiracy to distribute narcotics and was sentenced to 15 years in prison, with all but one day suspended, plus four years’ probation, according to court records.
Circuit Judge Emanuel Brown sentenced Tapia to three years in prison in 2021 after he admitted to violating his supervision.
Brian Hutchison, Tapia’s attorney, could not be reached for comment.
Tapia is being held without bail in the Washington County Detention Center. He’s scheduled to appear back in court on Nov. 27 for a status conference.