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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Eastern District of Michigan

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Five Indicted For Conspiracy To File False Tax Returns

Five Detroit-area residents were indicted today on charges of filing false tax returns with the Internal Revenue Service, U.S. Attorney Barbara L. McQuade announced today.

McQuade was joined in the announcement by Carolyn Weber, Acting Special Agent in Charge of the Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigation.

Charged were Johnnie Denham, Jr., 55, of Romulus, Anthony Craig Paul, 55, of Southfield, Vernon Lawson, 58, of Westland, Felicia C. Ramsey, 41, of Detroit, and Jacqueline Brown, 58, of Detroit.

The 11-count indictment alleges that the fraudulent claims for refunds totaled more than $6 million. Less than $1 million was actually released to the defendants.

The indictment alleges that between 2009 and 2010, Denham, Paul and Lawson participated in a scheme to receive payment for false claims for refunds from the IRS by filing false income tax returns for the 2008 tax year for themselves and others. They solicited others to falsely claim federal income tax refunds to which they were not entitled.

The indictment alleges that Ramsey and Brown voluntarily joined the conspiracy by filing false claims. Denham, Paul and Lawson received a large portion of the refunds that were released.

“The indictment filed today alleges Denham and four others were involved in a $6 million refund fraud scheme and enriched themselves in the process,” said Carolyn Weber, Acting Special Agent in Charge of IRS-Criminal Investigation. “During filing season, it serves as a timely reminder that filing false claims for income tax refunds is tantamount to stealing from those who pay their taxes and IRS Criminal Investigation will pursue those responsible.”

The defendants face a maximum term of imprisonment of ten years for conspiracy and five years for filing the false claims. The defendants also face fines of up to $250,000 per count. The actual sentence imposed, if convicted, would depend on a number of factors, including the defendant’s criminal record, if any, and advisory sentencing guidelines.

An indictment is only a charge and is not evidence of guilt. The defendants are entitled to a fair trial in which it will be the government's burden to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.

The case was investigated by Special Agents of the IRS Criminal Investigation.

Updated March 19, 2015