REPEAT OFFENDERS SENTENCED ON TAX FRAUD CHARGES
July 27, 2011
Previously Convicted Fraudsters Devised Tax Fraud Scheme After Meeting in Prison
ATLANTA, GA - United States District Judge Willis B. Hunt, Jr. sentenced three defendants today to federal prison who, after meeting each other earlier in federal prison, hatched a new criminal scheme upon their release from custody to file false income tax claims. KAZEEM AJALA, 46, of Atlanta, Georgia; MICHAEL SAPP, 50, of Hopewell, Virginia; and BRITTEN WILDER, 52, of Atlanta, Georgia, were sentenced on charges of mail fraud, filing false claims with the government, and aggravated identity theft, relating to a joint scheme to file false income tax claims.
United States Attorney Sally Quillian Yates said, “We see a number of recidivist criminals who continue to commit crimes and come back into the justice system, but this group took it a step further by educating and supporting each other in trying to learn and perfect a tax fraud scheme using their combined knowledge. Prison is not meant to be a school of higher education to commit higher crime. The lesson it really teaches is that you will land back in prison if you commit new crimes.”
“Money is the lifeline of false tax return schemes,” said Regineal D. McDaniel, Special Agent in Charge, IRS Criminal Investigation.“Stopping the flow of money from the United States Treasury into the pockets of fraudsters is paramount to stopping the proliferation of tax fraud. Tax crimes have erroneously been referred to as victimless, but that position could not be more wrong since we all end up paying when individuals defraud our tax system.”
“We hope the defendants will be seen as an example to others that repeat offenders face severe sentences. Mail fraud is a serious crime and the U.S. Postal Inspection Service will do everything within its power to investigate, apprehend and seek prosecution against any and all who commit this crime. We are pleased with the sentence given today and believe the defendants will learn the error of their ways this time around,” said Martin D. Phanco, Postal Inspector in Charge of the Atlanta Division, United States Postal Inspection Service.
WILDER was sentenced to 5 years, 4 months in prison to be followed by 3 years of supervised release. SAPP was sentenced to 4 years, 6 months in prison to be followed by 3 years of supervised release. AJALA, who cooperated with the investigation, was sentenced to 2 years, 6 months in prison to be followed by 3 years of supervised release. WILDER pleaded guilty to the charges on June 22, 2011. AJALA and SAPP pleaded guilty to the charges on June 23, 2011. On June 27, 2011, a fourth co-conspirator, JOSEPH FLOWERS, pleaded guilty to related charges of mail fraud, filing false claims with the government, and aggravated identity theft. FLOWERS’ sentencing is scheduled for August 24, 2011.
According to United States Attorney Yates, the charges and other information presented in court: In 2004, AJALA was convicted for production and trafficking in counterfeit devices used to defraud financial institutions. In 2005, SAPP, a then-IRS employee, was convicted for unauthorized disclosure of income tax information. Also in 2005, WILDER was convicted on charges of bank fraud and FLOWERS was convicted of mail fraud related to an auto insurance scam. All four defendants were sentenced to prison.
In or around 2009, after their release from prison, AJALA, SAPP, and WILDER devised a fraudulent tax fraud scheme wherein they would prepare fraudulent returns using the names and personal identifiers of current prison inmates, create fraudulent W-2 forms using fake business names, and request that the IRS sent the refunds by mail to address that they controlled. AJALA then recruited FLOWERS into the conspiracy to cash the fraudulently obtained refund checks through illegal means. In one month, the scheme netted $73,551.
This case was investigated by Special Agents of the Internal Revenue Service-Criminal Investigation, and Postal Inspectors of the United States Postal Inspection Service.
Assistant United States Attorney Jamila M. Hall prosecuted the case.
For further information please contact Sally Q. Yates, United States Attorney, or Charysse L. Alexander, Executive Assistant United States Attorney, through Patrick Crosby, Public Affairs Officer, U.S. Attorney's Office, at (404) 581-6016. The Internet address for the HomePage for the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Northern District of Georgia is www.justice.gov/usao/gan