News and Press Releases

“TWO TAX CHEATS SENTENCED TO PRISON”

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
March 18, 2011

Spokane – Today, Michael C. Ormsby, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Washington, announced that Melissa Nicole Sherrill, age 34, of Walla Walla, Washington, was sentenced for her role in a conspiracy to defraud the United States with respect to fraudulent claims for income tax refunds. Melissa Sherrill was ordered to serve 16-months in prison followed by a 3-year term of court supervision after she is released. She was ordered to pay $50,121 in restitution to the Internal Revenue Service, jointly and severally with the co-defendant in this case.

In December 2010, co-defendant Earnest Jay Allen, age 44, of Walla Walla, Washington, was sentenced to 30-months in prison for his role in the conspiracy to defraud the United States with respect to fraudulent claims for income tax refunds. He will also be under court supervision for 3-years after he is released and was ordered to pay $50,121 in restitution to the Internal Revenue Service.

According to court filings, Earnest Allen and Melissa Sherrill conspired to submit false claims for income tax refunds to the IRS. To perpetuate the scheme, Earnest Allen and Melissa Sherrill used their own names and Social Security Numbers (SSNs) and the names and SSNs of other individuals to create false tax returns and false claims for income tax refunds. These individuals did not know a refund claim had been made using their names until they were contacted by the IRS -- Criminal Investigation. The IRS criminal investigation determined that Earnest Allen and Melissa Sherrill filed 34 false claims for income tax refunds totaling $161,803. The IRS Fraud Detection Center prevented payment on seventeen false claims totaling $111,682. The IRS was fraudulently induced to issue 17 refund checks totaling $50,121.

Michael C. Ormsby, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Washington, said, "Now more than ever, those who fraudulently attempt to deplete the U.S. Treasury face stiff consequences for their action. As all of us prepare our own tax returns and pay what is owed to the Internal Revenue Service, it is important to know that those who don't are held accountable."

The investigation was conducted by the Internal Revenue Service – Criminal Investigations. The cases were prosecuted by George Jacobs, Assistant U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Washington.

10-CR-100-FVS

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