Tax Return Preparer Sentenced To 15 Years In Prison For Stolen Identity Refund Fraud Scheme
Tampa, Florida – U.S. District Judge Richard A. Lazzara today sentenced Kenyon Lamont Williams to 15 years in federal prison for a stolen identity refund fraud conspiracy. As part of his sentence, the court also entered a money judgment in the amount of $1,575,304.49, the proceeds of this tax fraud conspiracy. In addition, the court ordered Williams to pay $1,013,285.00 in restitution to the Internal Revenue Service.
Williams was found guilty after a jury trial on November 1, 2013.
According to testimony and evidence presented at trial, Williams worked in San Diego, California as a certified tax return preparer. Between 2007 and 2010, he worked for a national company as a part-time seasonal tax preparer. Around the beginning of 2011, Williams opened his own tax preparation service, which he operated out of his residence.
On January 25, 2012, Williams called his friend and fellow tax return preparer, Alesia Spivey, who lived in Tampa. Spivey and Williams discussed the 2012 tax season and Williams's desire to maximize the refund amounts for his clients. During this conversation, Williams solicited information from Spivey regarding methods to increase refunds. Spivey and Carlista Hawls, another co-conspirator, explained to Williams that individuals in Tampa were using a particular interest income scheme to file bogus tax returns with the IRS. Spivey advised Williams on how to fill out the tax returns to employ this interest income scheme. Between January 25 and July 19, 2012, Williams prepared and filed 168 fraudulent tax returns for tax year 2011, using bogus interest income figures provided by Spivey and Hawls. In addition, during this time period, Williams filed several hundred more tax returns from San Diego, employing other fraudulent claims to obtain refunds from the IRS.
On March 2, 2012, Spivey and Hawls flew to San Diego to meet with Williams. During the trip, Williams provided Spivey and Hawls with a list of names, dates of birth, and social security numbers for purposes of preparing and filing fraudulent tax returns in Tampa. Most of the individuals on the list were homeless, unemployed, or incarcerated. Williams also gave Spivey and Hawls a stack of U.S. Navy blood donor records so they could use the identities of servicemen and servicewomen to file bogus tax returns. Spivey and Hawls used the first list to file fraudulent tax returns with the IRS, but Spivey refused to use the list of military personnel because her son was in the U.S. Marine Corp.
Williams was arrested in January 2013, and released on bond with various conditions, including that he could not prepare or file tax returns for any third parties. Within two weeks of his release, Williams began filing tax returns for the 2013 tax season. By April, he had filed 381 tax returns, most of which were fraudulent. Upon discovery, the court revoked Williams’s bond and he remained detained pending trial.
This case was investigated by the Internal Revenue Service, Criminal Investigation. It is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Simon Gaugush and Adam Saltzman.