Department of Justice Seal Department of Justice
FRIDAY, APRIL 13, 2007
(202) 514-2007
TDD (202) 514-1888


WASHINGTON, D.C. - A federal grand jury in Los Angeles has indicted Peaches Mercer Turner and Alejandro Berdin, both of Riverside, Calif., for a false income tax return scheme, the Department of Justice and Internal Revenue Service (IRS) announced today.

The indictment charges each defendant with conspiracy to defraud the United States and submitting false claims for refunds with the IRS. The indictment also charges Turner with aggravated identity theft, wire fraud, and obstructing an IRS investigation by telling others to lie to federal investigators.

According to the indictment, Turner and Berdin prepared and filed income tax returns for 2005 and 2006 that claimed false credits based on the Telephone Excise Tax Refund (TETR) or the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC). The TETR is a one-time credit available on 2006 income tax returns designed to refund previously-collected federal excise taxes on long-distance telephone service paid from February 2003 through August 2006. The EITC is a refundable federal income tax credit for working people who earn low to moderate incomes. The indictment alleges that the total amount of false claims exceeded $600,000; one return alone claimed a $140,604 refund based upon a $137,228 TETR credit.

If convicted, the defendants each face a maximum potential sentence of 10 years in prison and a fine of $250,000 for the conspiracy. The maximum potential sentence for each count of submitting a false claim is five years in prison and a fine of $250,000. The maximum potential sentence for each count of wire fraud is 20 years in prison and a fine of $250,000. Each aggravated identity theft charge imposes a mandatory minimum sentence of two years imprisonment in addition to any other sentence.

The charges contained in the indictment are only allegations. A person is presumed innocent unless and until he or she is proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.

More information about the Justice Departmentís efforts against tax evaders and tax-scam promoters can be found at