News and Press Releases

Northern Kentucky IRS Financial Technician Sentenced to 28 Months for Stealing Identities and Committing Mail Fraud

January 24, 2014

COVINGTON, KY -A financial technician, employed in an office of the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) located in Boone County, KY., was sentenced to 28 months in federal prison for unlawfully accessing an IRS computer to obtain personal information about taxpayers.

U.S. District Judge Amul Thapar sentenced 33-year-old Joy Fox of Independence, KY., on Thursday for aiding and abetting mail fraud and one count of aiding and abetting aggravated identity theft. Under federal law, Fox will have to serve at least 85 percent of her prison sentence.

Fox pleaded guilty in September 2013 and acknowledged that as part of her official duties she had access to the Integrated Data Retrieval System (IDRS). IDRS is a computer system that maintains taxpayer information including names, social security numbers and dates of birth of taxpayers. Fox’s authorized access to the computer system was limited to official business use only.

Fox admitted she used IDRS without authorization to steal the identities of taxpayers. She provided the information to her co-defendant, Patrick Sharpe, 23, who lived in Tallahassee, FL. Sharpe specifically requested that Fox obtain the personal information of individuals 65 or older who were eligible for Social Security benefits. The defendants had planned for Sharpe to apply online for debit cards using the stolen identities and fund the cards with those individuals’ Social Security benefits.

Sharpe has admitted that he used false addresses in the application process so the cards would be delivered to locations where they could be picked up and used without the knowledge of the individuals whose identities had been stolen. Investigators discovered the scheme before the defendants could use the victims’ debit cards.

Sharpe pleaded guilty in October 2013 to aiding and abetting mail fraud and aiding and abetting aggravated identity theft. Sharpe will be sentenced on February 20, 2014.

Kerry B. Harvey, United U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Kentucky; James D. Robnett, Special Agent in Charge, IRS-Criminal Investigations Division, Tampa, FL., and Michael Wallenhorst, Special Agent in Charge, Treasury Inspector General Tax Administration, Chicago Field Division, jointly announced the sentence.

The investigation was conducted by agents of the IRS-Criminal Investigation Division, Tallahassee, Fla.; the Leon County Sheriff’s Office, Tallahassee, and agents of Treasury Inspector General Tax Administration, Covington, KY. Assistant U.S. Attorney Laura Voorhees prosecuted this case for the U.S. Attorney’s Office on behalf of the federal government.

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