three plead guilty to false income tax refund claims
KANSAS CITY, Mo. - Beth Phillips, United States Attorney for the Western District of Missouri, announced today that a Shawnee, Kan., woman is among three defendants who have pleaded guilty in federal court to their roles in a scheme to obtain fraudulent income tax refunds.
Waltia Williams, 32, of Shawnee, Kan., pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge Howard F. Sachs today to the charge contained in an Aug. 30, 2011, federal indictment. Co-defendants Candance McNeil, 32, of Kansas City, Mo., and Melvin Artis, 36, of Overland Park, Kan., have also pleaded guilty to their roles in the conspiracy.
Williams, McNeil and Artis each admitted that they participated in a conspiracy to make false claims to the government. They defrauded the United States by preparing and filing false federal income tax returns that claimed refunds to which they were not entitled. They caused 49 false returns to be filed that claimed a total of $359,991 in refunds from January 2009 to January 2010.
McNeil and Artis recruited individuals to file federal income tax returns under their own names. McNeil and Williams created false and inflated Form W-2 earnings and withholdings information for those individuals, then prepared and filed the fraudulent federal tax returns electronically with the IRS. These fraudulent returns claimed tax refunds to which those individuals were not entitled.
Artis received the debit cards that contained the refunds, which were mailed to addresses associated with him. Artis accompanied the recruited individuals to obtain cash from the refunds on the debit cards, keeping a portion of the refund to share between himself, McNeil and Williams.
Under federal statutes, Williams, McNeil and Artis are each subject to a sentence of up to 10 years in federal prison without parole, plus a fine up to $250,000. A sentencing hearing will be scheduled after the completion of a presentence investigation by the United States Probation Office.
This case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Jess E. Michaelsen. It was investigated by the IRS-Criminal Investigation.