Alabama Employee Pleads Guilty to Providing Names for a Million Dollar Identity Theft Scheme
Montgomery, Alabama - On May 30, 2013, Lea’Tice Phillips pleaded guilty to one count of wire fraud and one count of aggravated identity theft for her role in a stolen identity refund fraud scheme, announced United States Attorney George L. Beck, Jr.
According to the court documents, Lea’Tice Phillips worked for an Alabama State agency and had access to state databases which contained means of identification of individuals. Between October 2009 and April 2012, Lea’Tice Phillips conspired with Antoinette Djonret and others to file false tax returns using stolen identities. On multiple occasions, Phillips accessed a state database to obtain means of identification. Phillips used her state email to send means of identification to Djonret. Djonret and others used those means of identification to file false tax returns. Djonret and her co-conspirators filed most of the tax returns from her residence in Montgomery, Alabama. Djonret and her co-conspirators used an elaborate network of individuals to launder the tax refunds. The Defendants recruited individuals to purchase prepaid debit cards and to provide the cards to the Defendant and her co-conspirators. The fraudulent tax refunds were directed to the prepaid debit cards. Djonret and her co-conspirators would then use the prepaid debit cards to obtain the proceeds. Some of the prepaid debit cards were in the name of Lea’Tice Phillips. In total, Djonret filed over 1,000 false tax returns that claimed over $1.7 million in fraudulent tax refunds.
Sentencing has not yet been scheduled. Phillips faces between two and twenty-two years in prison, three years of supervised release, restitution, and a maximum fine of $750,000, or twice the loss caused by the offense. Djonret was previously sentenced to 144 months in prison.
The case was investigated by Special Agents of the IRS - Criminal Investigation. Trial attorneys Jason H. Poole and Michael Boteler of the Justice Department’s Tax Division and Assistant United States Attorney Todd Brown are prosecuting the case.
Additional information about the Tax Division and its enforcement efforts may be found at justice.gov/tax.
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