WASHINGTON – Odell Folks, of Brooklyn, N.Y., was sentenced to prison today by District Judge Carol Bagley Amon of the Eastern District of New York for his participation in a false tax return scheme, the Justice Department and Internal Revenue Service (IRS) announced. Folks, who pleaded guilty in March 2009 to mail fraud, a false claims conspiracy, and making and subscribing a false return, was sentenced to 77 months in prison and ordered to pay restitution of $489,292.
Folks, along co-defendants Tanya Smith, Keith Terry, and Sharon Smith, was 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). According to the indictment, between approximately May 2003 and February 2005, the defendants participated in a scheme to defraud the IRS by submitting false income tax returns requesting refunds in the names of individuals who had not earned sufficient income to trigger the filing requirement.
According to the indictment and court records, Folks obtained the personal identifying information of individuals receiving public assistance and, without their knowledge, submitted to the IRS false returns claiming refunds in their names. Folks had the refund checks sent to the addresses of individuals who he paid to receive and provide him with the checks. 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.
According to the indictment and court records, Tanya Smith and Keith Terry received the checks from Folks and Sharon Smith and deposited them into their personal bank accounts. Tanya Smith and Terry received a fee ranging from approximately $500 to $700 for each check that they negotiated. Folks and Terry failed to report the income that they received from the scheme on their own individual income tax returns.
Sharon Smith, of Bronx, N.Y., who pleaded guilty in April 2009 to the false claims conspiracy and mail fraud, is scheduled to be sentenced by Judge Amon on Oct. 14, 2009.
In August 2009, Judge Amon sentenced Tanya Smith, who pleaded guilty to the false claims conspiracy, to a term of imprisonment of 60 days and to three years supervised release with four months under monitored home detention. Tanya Smith was also ordered to pay restitution of $144,348.88. In August 2009, Judge Amon sentenced Keith Terry, who pleaded guilty to the false claims conspiracy and to filing a false tax return, to four years of probation with four months under monitored home detention and ordered him to pay restitution in the amount of $209,653.00.
John A. DiCicco, Acting Assistant Attorney General of the Justice Department’s Tax Division thanked the IRS Criminal Investigation Division office in Bridgeport, Conn., and the United States Postal Inspection Service in New Haven, Conn., who investigated the case, as well as Tax Division trial attorney Mark F. Daly and Assistant United States Attorney Shreve Ariail of the Eastern District of New York who prosecuted the case.