WASHINGTON - Odell Folks, a resident of Brooklyn, N.Y., and Tanya Smith, a resident of Waterbury, Conn., pleaded guilty to conspiracy to file false claims for tax refunds, the Justice Department and Internal Revenue Service (IRS) announced today. Folks also pleaded guilty to mail fraud and making a false tax return.
Folks and Tanya Smith, along with co-defendants Keith Terry and Sharon Smith, were indicted in November 2008 for a scheme to file false claims for refund with the IRS using names of clients of the New York City Human Resources Administration (HRA) and the Center for Employment Opportunities (CEO). Terry, a resident of Dallas, Ga., pleaded guilty to the false claims conspiracy and a false return charge on Jan. 29, 2009. Sharon Smith, a resident of Bronx, N.Y., is currently scheduled to begin trial on the charges on March 30, 2009.
According to the indictment and information in the plea agreements, between May 2003 and February 2005, Folks and Sharon Smith obtained names and information of HRA and CEO clients and used that information to seek refunds by filing false tax returns with the IRS. Based on the false documents, the IRS issued income tax refunds in the form of U.S. Treasury checks and mailed the refunds to false addresses. Folks and his co-conspirators obtained and cashed the refund checks. Tanya Smith and Keith Terry used their bank accounts to cash some of the Treasury checks.
According to the indictment and information in the plea agreements, Folks and Sharon Smith were employed as job counselors at CEO. HRA offers a wide range of social service programs to individuals receiving public assistance. CEO provides comprehensive employment services for persons with criminal records, including temporary jobs for individuals recently released from prison.
Judge Carol Bagley Amon of the Eastern District of New York scheduled sentencing for June 5, 2009. Folks faces a maximum sentence of 33 years in prison and a maximum fine of $750,000. Tanya Smith faces a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison and a maximum fine of $250,000. Terry is scheduled to be sentenced on April 30, 2009. He faces a maximum sentence of 13 years in prison and a maximum fine of $500,000.
John A. DiCicco, Acting Assistant Attorney General of the Justice Department’s Tax Division, commended the agents from the IRS and the U.S. Postal Inspection Service who investigated the case, as well as Tax Division trial attorney Mark F. Daly and Assistant U.S. Attorney Shreve Ariail of the Eastern District of New York, who prosecuted the case.