Chardon woman sentenced to more than three years in prison for stealing identities used in tax scheme
A Chardon woman who stole the identifiable health information of at least 35 individuals from her work place, and then provided this information to people who used the information to file the fraudulent tax returns, was sentenced to more than three years in prison today, said Steven M. Dettelbach, United States Attorney for the Northern District of Ohio.
Nelida I. Velasco, 38, was sentenced to 39 months in federal prison and ordered to pay $47,004 in restitution.
Co-defendant David T. Tufts, also of Chardon, was previously sentenced to four years in prison.
Both pleaded guilty earlier this year to charges including conspiracy to file false tax returns, making false claims, misuse of Social Security account numbers and aggravated identity theft, according to court records.
From in or about March 2009 to in or about September 2010, Tufts and Velasco, along with other co-conspirators, conspired to file, and did file, at least 35 false 2008 and 2009 federal income tax returns in the names of 35 separate individuals, resulting in a total of at least $155,000 in false claims being filed with the IRS, according to court documents.
Tufts and Velasco provided the names, Social Security Account Numbers, and other personal identifiers to a co-conspirator, who then used that information to create false Form W-2s and fraudulent tax returns, which were then filed electronically with the IRS, according to court records.
Many of the names, Social Security account numbers, and personal identifiers that Tufts, Velasco, and their co-conspirators used to create these fraudulent tax returns were stolen by Velasco from her then-employer, a medical billing company, according to court records.
Velasco stole the identifiable health information of at least 35 individuals from her work place, and then provided this information to Tufts and her other co-conspirators, who then used these personal identifiers of real people to prepare and file the fraudulent tax returns, according to court records.
The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Chelsea S. Rice, following investigation by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, the Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigation, and the United States Department of Health and Human Services, Office of the Inspector General.