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Former Navy Petty Officer Sentenced for Selling Fellow Sailors' Identities for Use in Phony Tax Returns

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
May 8, 2012

Petty Officer Stole New Recruits’ Identities from Navy Files at Fort Gillem

ATLANTA, Ga. - Kevon Kerr, 36, of Atlanta, Georgia, was sentenced today to three years in prison on identity theft charges after Kerr, a former Navy petty officer, stole and sold the identities of Navy recruits which were later used to file fraudulent tax returns.

“Kerr exploited his position in the Navy for his own selfish ends.  In stealing the identities of fellow sailors from their personnel files, he damaged the mutual trust and peace of mind of Service members deployed around the world in defense of their country and betrayed core values on which the good order and discipline of our Armed Forces depend,” said United States Attorney Sally Quillian Yates. “Kerr’s violation of law and his oath was compounded in this case because the stolen identities were used to perpetrate another theft from the public treasury.”

IRS Criminal Investigation Special Agent in Charge Rodney E. Clarke said, “Individuals who commit refund fraud and identity theft of this magnitude and with this degree of trickery, dishonesty and deceit, deserve to be punished to the fullest extent of the law.  IRS Criminal Investigation along with our law enforcement partners and the United States Attorney's Office remain vigilant in identifying, investigating and prosecuting those individuals who seek to willfully defraud the United States Treasury and have a blatant disregard for the victims of their schemes.”

“The U.S. Postal Inspection Service is charged with protecting the brand and sanctity of the U.S. Mail.  The defendant was highly mistaken to think he could get in the way of our mission.  Whoever threatens the brand of the U.S. Postal Service will be challenged and investigated to the fullest extent of the law,” said Keith Morris, Postal Inspector in Charge of the Atlanta Division.

Kerr was sentenced by United States District Court Judge Richard W. Story to 3 years in custody to be followed by 3 years of supervised release, and $9,857 in restitution.  Kerr’s term of imprisonment was increased to reflect his breach of trust to the Navy.  Kerr was convicted of these charges on August 24, 2011, when he pleaded guilty to a 2-count criminal information.

According to United States Attorney Yates, the charges and other information presented in court: In early 2010, Kerr was assigned to an in-processing center for new and prospective Navy recruits at Fort Gillem, in Forest Park, Georgia, and entrusted with personnel files there.  Kerr photocopied the recruits’ driver’s licenses and Social Security cards and provided the copies to Tyrone Boyd, 33, of Decatur, Georgia, who served with Kerr in the U.S. Navy.  Boyd and Lawanda Mitchell, 31, of Atlanta, Georgia, then provided the stolen identities to Ashuana Turner, 33, of Riverdale, Georgia, who filed fraudulent federal and state tax returns containing the names, dates of birth and Social Security numbers that had been stolen initially by Kerr.  In total, Turner filed fraudulent returns on behalf of 42 Navy personnel, including sailors and incoming recruits.

During the execution of a search warrant at Turner’s house in Riverdale, Georgia, law enforcement found records of the stolen Navy identities, along with notebooks and recipe boxes full of other stolen identities that were linked by the investigation to hundreds of fraudulent federal and Georgia tax returns.

In June 2010, Kerr, Boyd, Mitchell and Turner were charged in an Indictment with 42 counts of identity theft.  Kerr and Boyd later pleaded guilty to criminal informations that charged each of them with one count of theft of public money, and one count of aggravated identity theft. Mitchell pleaded guilty to a criminal information charging one count of wire fraud, and one count of aggravated identity theft.  The aggravated identity theft charges carry mandatory minimum sentences of two years in prison, to be served consecutively to any other sentences imposed.  Turner pleaded guilty to a criminal information charging a conspiracy to steal identification documents of United States military service members.

The other defendants in the case received the following sentences:

  • On February 28, 2011, Boyd was sentenced to 2 years, 9 months in custody and 3 years of supervised release, and was ordered to pay $9,857 in restitution.
  • On February 28, 2011, Turner was sentenced to 3 years, 6 months in custody and 3 years of supervised release, and was ordered to pay $121,905 in restitution to the Internal Revenue Service and $73,935.38 in restitution to the Georgia Department of Revenue.  Turner, who was held responsible for filing at least 304 fraudulent returns, had her sentence reduced by several months for time already served in state custody on related charges. 
  • On March 14, 2012, Mitchell was sentenced to 3 years, 3 months in custody and 5 years of supervised release, and was ordered to pay $9,857 in restitution. 

 
This case was investigated by the Internal Revenue Service, U.S. Postal Inspection Service, the Naval Criminal Investigative Service and the East Point Police Department.

Assistant United States Attorney Brian Pearce prosecuted the case.

Those who believe that they are a victim of identity theft are encouraged to visit www.irs.gov or call 1-800-908-4490 for more information.

For further information please contact the U.S. Attorney’s Public Information Office at USGAN.PressEmails@usdoj.gov or (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.

 

 

 

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