A federal grand jury in the Middle District of Alabama returned a 37-count indictment against Mary Bennett, Milton Bennett, Narendrakumar Patel, Corinthian Bennett and Eugenia Burks for their roles in an identity theft and tax fraud scheme, the Justice Department, the U.S. Secret Service and the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) announced today. All five are charged with conspiring to commit mail fraud and wire fraud. The indictment also charges various defendants with mail fraud, wire fraud, aggravated identity theft, theft of government funds and forgery of state securities. The indictment was returned on Feb. 15, 2012, and unsealed today following the arrests of the defendants.
According to the indictment, the defendants conspired to fraudulently obtain both federal income tax refunds as well as state income tax refunds from several different states by using stolen identities to file false tax returns. Allegedly, fraudulently obtained refund checks were mailed to various addresses used by the conspiracy, while other refunds were obtained through direct deposits into numerous bank accounts controlled by the conspirators. Some of the checks obtained by the scheme allegedly were cashed by Patel, who shared in the proceeds.
An indictment merely alleges that crimes have been committed, and the defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. If convicted, all the defendants face a maximum potential sentence of 20 years in prison for the conspiracy charge. There is also a statutory maximum of 20 years in prison for each wire fraud and mail fraud count, 10 years in prison for each theft of government funds and forgery of state securities count, and a mandatory 2-year sentence for the aggravated identity theft counts. All the defendants are also subject to fines and mandatory restitution if convicted.
The case was investigated by Special Agents of the Secret Service and IRS - Criminal Investigation. Trial Attorney Jason H. Poole of the Justice Department’s Tax Division and Assistant U.S. Attorney Andrew O. Schiff are prosecuting the case.
Additional information about the Tax Division and its enforcement efforts may be found at www.justice.gov/tax.