News and Press Releases

South Florida Women Sentenced in Identity Theft Tax Refund Fraud Scheme Involving the Filing of Approximately 2,000 Fraudulent Tax Returns Seeking $11 Million Dollars in Refunds

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
April 25, 2013

Wifredo A. Ferrer, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Florida, José A. Gonzalez, Special Agent in Charge, Internal Revenue Service, Criminal Investigation Division (IRS-CID), Miami Field Office, and Paula Reid, Special Agent in Charge, United States Secret Service (USSS), Miami Field Office, announced the sentencing of Alci Bonannee, 36, of Fort Lauderdale, and Sonyini Clay, 40, of Miami Gardens, for their roles in an identity theft tax refund fraud scheme. Bonannee was sentenced to 317 months in prison to be followed by three years of supervised release. Clay was sentenced to 121 months in prison to be followed by three years of supervised release. Judge James I. Cohn also ordered Bonannee to pay $1,908,182 in restitution to the Internal Revenue Service.

On January 28, 2013, Bonannnee was convicted at trial of conspiracy to defraud the government with respect to claims (18 U.S.C. § 286), filing false claims (18 U.S.C. § 287), wire fraud (18 U.S.C. § 1343), and aggravated identity theft (18 U.S.C. § 1028A). On January 13, 2013, Clay pled guilty to conspiracy to defraud the government with respect to claims (18 U.S.C. § 286) and aggravated identity theft (18 U.S.C. § 1028A).

According to testimony and evidence presented at trial, Bonannee, Clay and co-defendant Chante Mozley, engaged in a large scale identity theft tax fraud scheme that operated from December 2010 through June 2012. During the course of the fraud scheme, there were approximately 2,000 fraudulent tax returns submitted to the Internal Revenue Service for payment seeking $11 million dollars in refunds. The Department of Treasury paid out approximately $3.5 million dollars into bank accounts held in the name of and controlled by the defendants, who withdrew approximately $1.9 million in cash.

According to testimony and evidence presented at trial, Bonannee filed a majority of the fraudulent tax returns from her house and other locations. Bonannee filed many of these fraudulent returns using compromised personal identification information obtained from a nurse at a local hospital. Clay filed several hundred fraudulent tax returns form her house and other locations.

On March 29, 2013, after having pled guilty to conspiracy to file fraudulent claims (18 U.S.C. § 286), U.S. District Judge James I. Cohn sentenced Mozley to 42 months imprisonment to be followed by three years of supervised release after having pled guilty to conspiracy to file fraudulent claims. Mozley was also ordered to pay restitution in the amount of $1,908,182.00 to the Internal Revenue Service.

Mr. Ferrer commended IRS-CID and USSS for their work on the case. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Michael N. Berger and Wilfredo Fernandez.

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A copy of this press release may be found on the website of the United States Attorney's Office for the Southern District of Florida at http://www.usdoj.gov/usao/fls. Related court documents and information may be found on the website of the District Court for the Southern District of Florida at http://www.flsd.uscourts.gov or on http://pacer.flsd.uscourts.gov.

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