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Justice News

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

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Thursday, November 7, 2013

Tax Credit Refund Conspirator Gets 51 Month Sentence

PHILADELPHIA – Paul Rawls, 55 of Philadelphia, was sentenced today to 51 months in prison for his role in a tax fraud scheme that sought to bilk the government of over $600,000. 
Rawls conspired with three others – including Jonathan Brownlee 29, a Philadelphia tax preparer.  Rawls pleaded guilty to conspiracy and one count of filing a false claim on June 25, 2013.  Brownlee, who also pleaded guilty, was sentenced on October 9th to 24 months in prison.

Christopher Brownlee, 38, and Anthony Foster, 44, also of Philadelphia are the remaining conspirators.  Both are awaiting sentencing. The scheme involved filing false tax claims by obtaining and using the personal identifying information of several individuals, including their Social Security numbers, sometimes under false pretenses.  The defendants used the information to prepare and file bogus tax returns claiming fraudulent refunds and directed the refunds to be deposited into bank accounts that the conspirators controlled.  The tax returns fraudulently reported that the individuals for whom the defendants had prepared the returns, were entitled to receive a $7,500 refundable tax credit under the Housing and Economic Recovery Act of 2008.  The returns were false because those individuals had not purchased new homes and thus were not eligible to apply for the refundable tax credit.  Some of the individuals---in whose name the returns had been prepared and filed---were not aware that the defendants had used their Social Security numbers for the purpose of filing the false returns.  The indictment was the first in the Eastern District of Pennsylvania involving fraud effecting the Housing and Economic Recovery Act of 2008.   

In addition to the prison terms, U.S. District Court Judge Berle M. Schiller ordered Rawls and Brownlee to pay restitution in the amount of $197,385. 

The case was investigated by the Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigations and the Office of Inspector General for the United States Social Security Administration.  It is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Floyd J. Miller and Patrick J. Murray.

UNITED STATES ATTORNEY'S OFFICE, EASTERN DISTRICTof PENNSYLVANIA
Suite 1250, 615 Chestnut Street, Philadelphia, PA 19106
PATTY HARTMAN, Media Contact, 215-861-8525