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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Middle District of Louisiana

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Monday, September 16, 2013

SIRF Charges

BATON ROUGE, LA – Acting United States Attorney Walt Green announced the filing of criminal charges against five (5) individuals accused of committing tax fraud, identity theft, and related crimes in the Baton Rouge area. Collectively, these five individuals are alleged to have submitted more than 1,000 fraudulent federal income tax returns, fraudulently claiming refunds totaling more than $1.4 million. The charges are the result of an initiative by the United States Attorney’s Office, the Internal Revenue Service’s Criminal Investigations Division, and the United States Department of Justice’s Tax Division, to combat stolen identity refund fraud and other tax fraud schemes.

The following individuals have been charged:

HOLLY GREEN, age 28, of Baton Rouge, Louisiana, was charged in a bill of information with making false claims and identity theft. The bill of information alleges that GREEN obtained the names and personal identifying information, including Social Security numbers, of numerous victims, and used that information to electronically file fraudulent federal tax returns in the victims’ names. GREEN directed the fraudulent refunds to be deposited onto debit cards that she controlled, or mailed to her, at which point she would cash the checks and gain control of the funds. From January 2012 through April 2012, GREEN submitted approximately 71 false tax returns, claiming refunds totaling approximately $123,155. If convicted of both counts, GREEN faces a maximum possible prison term of ten (10) years and fines totaling $500,000. GREEN also faces the forfeiture of the proceeds from the alleged scheme. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Shubhra Shivpuri.

MONA HILL, age 32, of Plaquemine, was charged in a bill of information with wire fraud and aggravated identity theft. The bill of information alleges that HILL obtained the names and personal identifying information of numerous victims, and used that information to file fraudulent federal tax returns in the victims’ names. From January 2012 through July 2012, HILL submitted approximately 488 false tax returns, claiming refunds totaling approximately $661,258. If convicted, HILL faces up to twenty (20) years in prison on the wire fraud count, which would be followed by a mandatory, 2-year prison term as a result of the aggravated identity theft count. HILL also faces fines totaling $500,000 and forfeiture of the proceeds from the alleged scheme. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Shubhra Shivpuri.

ASHLEY D. RICKS-STAMPLEY (RICKS), age 28, of Baton Rouge, was charged in a bill of information with wire fraud and aggravated identity theft. The bill of information alleges that RICKS obtained the names and personal identifying information of numerous victims and then used the information to submit false income tax returns in the victims’ names for the 2010 and 2011 tax years. According to the bill of information, RICKS submitted approximately 455 false tax returns and fraudulently obtained approximately $559,953 through her scheme. If convicted, RICKS faces up to twenty (20) years in prison on the wire fraud count, which would be followed by a mandatory, 2-year prison term as a result of the aggravated identity theft count. RICKS also faces fines totaling $500,000 and forfeiture of the proceeds from the alleged scheme. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Reginald Jones.

KIMBERLY H. SCOTT, age 40, of Baton Rouge, was charged in a bill of information with theft of public funds. The bill of information alleges that SCOTT worked with another individual who had obtained the names and personal identifying information of numerous victims and used those stolen identities to file fraudulent tax returns. According to the bill of information, SCOTT allowed this other individual to use SCOTT’s bank account to receive the tax refunds that the fraudulent returns would generate. According to the charge, SCOTT allowed the fraudulent proceeds from approximately 74 false tax returns to be deposited into her bank account, totaling approximately $96,497, at which point SCOTT gained control of the funds. If convicted, SCOTT faces up to ten (10) years in prison and a $250,000 fine. SCOTT also faces the forfeiture of the proceeds from the alleged scheme. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Reginald Jones.

On September 11, 2013, a federal grand jury returned an indictment charging SHYWANDA F. UNDERWOOD, age 39, of Baker, with four counts of making false claims for tax refunds and four counts of identity theft. The indictment alleges that while UNDERWOOD owned and operated a tax preparation business in Baker, she used W-2 forms for fictitious businesses to prepare and submit false tax returns, claiming tax credits and refunds to which the taxpayers were not entitled. The indictment also alleges that UNDERWOOD prepared and filed false tax returns using stolen identities, including individuals’ Social Security numbers. The indictment alleges that UNDERWOOD claimed fraudulent tax refunds totaling approximately $20,241. If convicted of all 8 counts in the indictment, UNDERWOOD faces a maximum possible prison term of forty (40) years and fines totaling $2,000,000. UNDERWOOD also faces the forfeiture of the proceeds from the alleged scheme. In addition to IRS Criminal Investigation, the case is being investigated by the United States Secret Service. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Cam T. Le.

“Investigating refund fraud and identity theft is a priority for IRS Criminal Investigation,” said IRS Criminal Investigation Special Agent-in-Charge Gabriel Grchan. “Stealing identities and filing false tax returns is a serious crime that hurts innocent taxpayers. The recent charges in Baton Rouge should serve as a strong warning to those who are considering similar conduct. The IRS and the U.S. Attorney’s Office are serious about investigating these crimes and prosecuting those who engage in this type of conduct.”  

Acting U.S. Attorney Green stated: “This office will continue to aggressively pursue criminals who commit identity theft and use those stolen identities to defraud the United States and line their own pockets. The filing of these five new cases is another important step in that important effort. Working with our federal, state, and local partners, our investigations of this type of crime in our district will continue.”