WASHINGTON - Willie C. Grant, a tax return preparer from Macon, Ga., was sentenced to 60 months in prison by for filing false claims for tax refunds, theft of government money and aggravated identity theft, the Justice Department and the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) announced today. U.S. District Court Chief Judge C. Ashley Royal also ordered Grant to pay over $200,000 in restitution to the IRS.
According to court documents, from 2003 through 2008, Grant owned and operated a tax return preparation business, Grant Income Tax Bookkeeping and Check Cash (GIT) out of his home in Macon. During this time period, Grant filed false federal income tax returns in the names of deceased individuals and used many of his former clients' names and Social Security numbers to file wholly fraudulent returns without their knowledge or consent. Grant directed the IRS to either electronically deposit refunds into his personal or business bank accounts or issue paper refund Treasury checks which he cashed or deposited into bank accounts he controlled. Grant spent the proceeds of his false refund scheme on personal items including expensive cars and personal living expenses. Grant admitted that that he abused his position of private trust as a professional paid tax preparer in committing these crimes.
"Honest taxpayers are doubly harmed when they entrust return preparers with their information, who turn out to be thieves who steal that information to enrich themselves by making fraudulent refund claims," said Assistant Attorney General Kathryn Keneally. "The Justice Department will investigate and prosecute stolen identity refund fraud in all of its various forms."
"When Mr. Grant stole these identities and defrauded the IRS, he victimized not only the people whose names and social security numbers he used, but every tax paying citizen in the United States. My office, with the continued cooperation of our law enforcement partners, will make sure that people like Mr. Grant are held to account for their fraud," said Michael Moore, U.S. Attorney for the Middle District of Georgia.
"Mr. Grant used a foundation of fraud and deceit in order to cheat the government and victimize innocent taxpayers and is now being held accountable for his egregious behavior," said Richard Weber, Chief IRS Criminal Investigation. "As a paid tax preparer, Grant held a position of trust in the eyes of his clients. He violated that trust and caused immeasurable harm to innocent victims. IRS Criminal Investigation has made investigating refund fraud and identity theft a top priority and we will vigorously pursue those who undermine the integrity of those individuals whose identities were stolen, as well as the U.S. tax system."
Assistant Attorney General Keneally commended the efforts of special agents of IRS - Criminal Investigation, who investigated the case, and Tax Division Trial Attorneys Charles M. Edgar, Jr. and Justin K. Gelfand, who prosecuted the case.