United States Attorney Brendan V. Johnson announced that six individuals have been indicted by a federal grand jury for Conspiracy to Defraud the United States and Aggravated Identity Theft.
Donta J. Moore, age 28, of Kansas City, MO; Timothy L. Brister, Jr., age 29, of Tampa, FL; Undra Stewart Franks, age 27, of Little Rock, AR; Jennifer Robinson, age 25, of Fargo, ND; Shawnte Washington, age 31, of Tampa, FL; and Anna Weber, age 27, of West Fargo, ND, were indicted on February 4, 2014.
Franks appeared before U.S. Magistrate John E. Simko on February 12, 2014, and pled not guilty to the Indictment. The others have been arrested and will make their first court appearance in Sioux Falls in early March.
The maximum penalty upon conviction of the conspiracy offense is up to 10 years in custody and/or a $250,000 fine, 3 years of supervised release, and $100 to the Federal Crime Victims Fund. Restitution may also be ordered. The aggravated identity theft offense carries a mandatory sentence upon conviction of 2 years in custody consecutive to any other sentence.
The indictment charges that the defendants conspired to defraud the United States by using personal identifying information, including names, Social Security numbers, and dates of birth, stolen from others to file fraudulent income tax returns which claimed false income tax refunds. The indictment also charges Moore, Brister, Franks, Robinson, and Washington with one count each of transferring, using or possessing the name, date of birth or Social Security number of other persons in relation to stealing or embezzling money from the United States government.
The charges are merely accusations and the defendants are presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty.
The investigation is being conducted by the Internal Revenue Service – Criminal Investigation. The Moorhead, MN, police department and the U.S. Secret Service also aided in the investigation. Assistant U.S. Attorney John E. Haak is prosecuting the case.
Franks was released pending trial. A trial date has not been set.