FRESNO, Calif. — Monica Nanette Hernandez, 41, of Fresno, pleaded guilty today to one count of filing false income tax returns, one count of wire fraud, and one count of aggravated identity theft, United States Attorney Benjamin B. Wagner announced.
According to court documents, Hernandez worked for the IRS Service Center in Fresno as a part-time data entry clerk. While employed in that capacity, Hernandez filed three tax returns for herself claiming excessive federal tax withholdings as a result of falsely claimed interest and dividend income. Based on these fraudulent returns, Hernandez obtained more than $175,000 in refunds from the IRS.
In addition, in April 2010, Hernandez stole 68 tax returns from the IRS Service Center and filed fraudulent tax returns using information contained on the stolen tax returns to claim excessive federal tax withholdings. In total, Hernandez attempted to claim more than $1,745,000 in fraudulent tax refunds.
“IRS Criminal Investigation has made investigating refund fraud and identity theft a top priority,” said IRS Special Agent-in-Charge José M. Martinez, “especially in those situations where individuals with positions of trust commit fraud by taking taxpayer information to file fraudulent tax returns in the name of the stolen identity to obtain a larger tax refund. This resulted in significant harm to those taxpayers whose identities were stolen, as well as a monetary loss against the U.S. Treasury.”
“Identity theft has become a modern-day scourge in American society, for the damage it inflicts on its victims can be personally, professionally, and financially devastating,” said Rod Ammari, Special Agent in Charge, San Francisco Field Division, Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA). “Those who engage in such crimes need to know that TIGTA and its law-enforcement partners will actively investigate IRS-related identity theft cases, and work with the U.S. Attorneys’ offices where perpetrators will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.”
This case is the product of an extensive investigation by the Internal Revenue Service, Criminal Investigation and TIGTA. Assistant United States Attorneys Grant B. Rabenn and Christopher D. Baker are prosecuting the case.
Hernandez is scheduled to be sentenced by U.S. District Judge Anthony W Ishii on April 14, 2014. She faces a maximum statutory penalty for filing false income tax returns of three years in prison and a $250,000 fine. The maximum statutory penalty for wire fraud is 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine. The aggravated identity theft charge carries a minimum mandatory term of two years in prison to be served consecutively with any other sentence and it carries a maximum statutory penalty of 15 years in prison. The actual sentence, however, will be determined at the discretion of the court after consideration of any applicable statutory sentencing factors and the Federal Sentencing Guidelines, which take into account a number of variables.