Co-conspirator Sentenced for Fraudulently Claiming Millions in Fuel Tax Credit Refunds
Six Defendants Participated in the Scheme
Greenbelt, Maryland - U.S. District Judge Roger W. Titus sentenced Soumahoro Ben Amara, age 46, of Silver Spring, Maryland, today to 33 months in prison followed by three years of supervised release for mail fraud and filing a false claim in connection with a scheme to obtain fraudulent tax refunds from the IRS, announced United States Attorney for the District of Maryland Rod J. Rosenstein. Judge Titus also ordered Amara to pay restitution of $694,883. In addition, Amara was sentenced to 24 months in prison to be served consecutive to the 33 months, for identity theft in an unrelated case filed in the Eastern District of Virginia.
According to his plea agreement, between 2006 and at least July 2008 Amara filed 43 fraudulent corporate tax returns for tax years 2005 through 2007, asserting that corporations purportedly owned by him had paid taxes on fuel that was used for non-taxable purposes, entitling them to obtain refunds. The returns claimed fuel tax credit refunds totaling $3,321,594 and the IRS issued refund checks totaling $694,883 in response to some of the claims and rejected other claims. In fact, at no time did Amara or any corporation owned by him purchase the fuel on which the tax refunds were claimed.
“Everyone who files a tax return should take full advantage of all deductions provided by law; however, no one is entitled to an undeserved windfall,” stated C. Andre' Martin, Internal Revenue Service-Criminal Investigation Special Agent in Charge.
Mr. June Leftwich, age 34, formerly of Forestville, Maryland and Telemaga Bamba, age 44, of Bowie, Maryland, prepared the tax returns filed by Amara and shared the proceeds of the refund checks issued by the IRS. According to Bamba’s plea agreement, he and his co-conspirators filed 154 fraudulent corporate tax returns for the tax years 2004 through 2007, claiming $11,772,004 in refunds for fuel tax credits. Judge Titus sentenced Bamba to 70 months in prison and ordered Bamba to forfeit two Mercedes-Benz vehicles and a Harley-Davidson motorcycle, and to pay restitution of $928,649.
Judge Titus sentenced Leftwich to 55 months in prison for and ordered him to pay $2,404,087 in restitution. According to his plea agreement, Leftwich filed 60 fraudulent corporate tax returns for the tax years 2003 through 2007, fraudulently claiming $4.2 million in refunds for fuel tax credits. Leftwich also prepared 13 fraudulent individual and corporate tax returns for tax years 2003 through 2006, filed by his wife, Dorian Holmes, falsely claiming fuel tax credit refunds totaling $830,384. The IRS issued refund checks totaling $499,364 and the couple used the fraudulently obtained tax refunds to purchase residential property in Houston, Texas. Judge Titus sentenced Holmes, age 28, to serve two months in prison for her role in the scheme, and ordered her to pay restitution of $499,364.
In a related case, Judge Titus sentenced James Hallmon, age 44, of Fort Washington, Maryland, to 21 months in prison for filing federal corporate tax returns in which he fraudulently claimed $647,060 in fuel tax credits. Another co-conspirator, William Smith, age 34, of Forestville, Maryland, pleaded guilty to falsely claiming $2.4 million in fuel tax credits, and is being sentenced on June 22, 2009.
United States Attorney Rod J. Rosenstein thanked the Internal Revenue Service - Criminal Investigation for its investigative work and Assistant United States Attorney Stephanie Hammerstrom of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Virginia for her work on the identity theft case. Mr. Rosenstein commended Assistant United States Attorneys Jonathan Su and Gina Simms, who prosecuted the tax case.