Melinda Clayton of Montgomery, Ala., was sentenced today to 61 months in prison, following a guilty plea to conspiracy to make false claims, wire fraud and aggravated identity theft, the Justice Department and the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) announced. U.S. District Judge Mark Fuller also ordered Clayton to pay $494,424 in restitution.
Court records indicate that on April 8, 2011, Clayton was arrested on a criminal complaint following the execution of a search warrant at her house that same day. Clayton and Alchico Grant were both named in the original indictment which was returned in April 2011. On Aug. 31, 2011, Clayton, along with Veronica Dale and Alchico Grant, was charged in a 43-count superseding indictment with conspiring to defraud the United States by filing false claims, filing false claims, wire fraud and aggravated identity theft. That indictment also charged Stephanie Adams with conspiracy and with theft of government funds, and named Valerie Byrd as an unindicted co-conspirator. According to the indictment, the conspiracy involved using stolen identities to file false tax returns. Veronica Dale, Alchico Grant, Stephanie Adams and Valerie Byrd have all pleaded guilty to federal crimes.
According to the indictment and plea agreement, Clayton stored tens of thousands of stolen means of identification (names and Social Security numbers) at her house, which came from numerous sources, including private companies, health clinics and prisons. Dale and Clayton used the stolen identities to file false returns that fraudulently claimed tax refunds. They directed the refunds to bank accounts and debit cards. Grant and Dale would buy debit cards to use in the scheme, while Clayton, Adams and Byrd all provided bank accounts to receive fraudulent refunds. Between January and up to the day of the search warrant, April 8, 2011, the conspirators filed returns claiming almost $500,000 in fraudulent refunds.
The case was investigated by Special Agents of the IRS - Criminal Investigation. Trial attorneys Jason H. Poole and Michael Boteler of the Justice Department’s Tax Division, and Assistant U.S. Attorney Todd Brown of the Middle District of Alabama are prosecuting the case.
Additional information about the Tax Division and its enforcement efforts may be found at www.justice.gov/tax.