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Three Utah County Men Charged With Fraud, ID Theft; Indictments Allege They Used Personal Information Of Deceased Inidividuals From A California Website To File Fraudulent Tax Returns, Get Refunds

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
November 26, 2012

SALT LAKE CITY – Federal indictments have been unsealed charging three Utah County men with making false claims, wire fraud, and aggravated identity theft in connection with what the indictments allege were schemes to obtain the names, addresses, social security numbers, and other personal identifiers of deceased individuals. The indictments allege the three used the information to file false tax returns and get refunds from the IRS.

Joshua Erle Garrison, age 20, Nathaniel Jay McGee, age 31, both of Provo, and Kaden John Ashton, age 19, of Orem are charged in separate indictments returned by a federal grand jury Oct. 31, 2012. Federal arrest warrants were issued for them. Garrison and McGee were arrested on the warrants. The arrest warrant for Ashton remains active. The indictments were unsealed earlier this month. The charges follow an investigation by the IRS.

The indictments allege the defendant, in conjunction with others, obtained the personal information of individuals who died in the State of California from a website that listed the names, addresses, and social security numbers of deceased individuals.

According to the indictment, Garrison filed false and fraudulent 1040EZ tax forms for five individuals using the information he obtained from the website and false records of employers and wages that he created. According to the indictment, the IRS sent the refunds, which ranged from $1,046 to $1,125, to Garrison’s bank account in Utah.

Ashton, the indictment alleges, also filed false tax forms for five individuals, using false records of employers and wages that he created. The IRS sent refunds, ranging from $1,402 to $2,624, to his bank account.

According to the indictment, McGee filed false tax forms for five individuals and received five refunds of $1,046. The IRS sent the refunds to an account in another individual’s name but McGee had access to the account and, according to the indictment, conducted the prominent activity on the account.

Each defendant is charged with five counts of making false claims by presenting the fraudulent tax forms to the IRS. The potential penalty for each false claim is up to five years in prison and a fine of $250,000. Each defendant faces five counts of wire fraud related to the transfer of funds in the case. The potential penalty for each count of wire fraud is up to 30 years in prison and a fine of $1 million. The final five counts of each indictment allege aggravated identity theft for the use of another person’s means of identification. Each count of identity theft carries a potential two-year mandatory minimum sentence. These are the statutory maximum sentences for the counts charged in the indictment. If the defendants are convicted of the crimes, sentences will be calculated using the federal sentencing guidelines in an advisory capacity.

McGee and Garrison had initial appearances and an arraignment on Nov. 2, 2012, before U.S. Magistrate Judge Evelyn J. Furse. Counsel was appointed for both defendants and both entered not guilty pleas to the charges. Detention hearings were held for both defendants. Federal prosecutors did not seek detention of Garrison. A jury trial is set for Jan. 7, 2013, for Garrison. Federal prosecutors did ask for McGee to be detained pending trial. Magistrate Furse ruled that McGee would be detained until a bed is available at the halfway house. He must comply with all rules of the halfway house and enter into a drug treatment program. His detention status may be reconsidered after 30 days of compliance with the halfway house rules and drug treatment program.

Indictments are not findings of guilt. Individuals charged in indictments are presumed innocent unless or until proven guilty in court.

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