Three Charged in Tax Fraud Scheme
|Feb. 14, 2014|
HOUSTON – Cheryl Reed Johnson aka Shawnee Reed and Cheryl Reed, Carey Jermaine Johnson aka Jermaine Johnson, and Tarmera Renee Wyckoff aka Toni Wyckoff, are charged in a 23-count indictment alleging conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud, conspiracy to make false claims to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), wire fraud and making false claims to obtain tax refunds, announced United States Attorney Kenneth Magidson along with Lucy Cruz, special agent in charge of IRS-Criminal Investigation (CI), and Inspector in Charge Robert Wemyss of the U.S. Postal Inspection Service (USPIS).
“Today's announcement exemplifies IRS special agents' intense focus on the rigorous pursuit of refund fraud,” said Cruz. “At the IRS, protecting taxpayer money is a matter we take very seriously; IRS-CI will continue to vigorously pursue those who unjustly enrich themselves by preparing false claims for refunds.”
The sealed indictment, returned Jan. 30, 2014, was unsealed yesterday. At that time, Wyckoff appeared before U.S. Magistrate Judge George C. Hanks Jr. and was released upon posting bond. Carey Jermaine Johnson is set to appear today at 2:00 p.m.
A warrant remains outstanding for the arrest of Cheryl Reed Johnson.
The indictment alleges the defendants devised a scheme to acquire personal identifying information of various individuals and used that information in the filing of tax returns. According to the indictment, the returns were filed online through a tax preparation service and the refunds were directed to the bank accounts of the defendants and others. The returns submitted to the IRS by the defendants in 2008 falsely claimed a first time home buyer credit, according to the charges. These false claims allegedly totaled approximately $1.5 million.
“Since our founding in 1772, postal inspectors have sought to ensure the U.S. Mail is not used for illegal gain,” said Wemyss. “When criminals use the mail to commit fraud, postal inspectors will not hesitate to ensure they are brought to justice.”
The charges of conspiracy to commit mail or wire fraud as well as wire fraud each carry a possible 20-year federal prison term, upon conviction. If convicted of conspiracy to make false claims to the IRS, the three also face another 10 years, while making a false claim to obtain tax refunds is punishable by up to five years in prison. All the charges also carry a possible $250,00 fine upon conviction.
IRS-CI and USPIS investigated. Assistant United States Attorney Melissa Annis is prosecuting the case.
An indictment is a formal accusation of criminal conduct, not evidence.
A defendant is presumed innocent unless convicted through due process of law.