FORMER WHATCOM COUNTY COUPLE INDICTED IN CONNECTION WITH CONSPIRACY, TAX FRAUD, BANK FRAUD, WIRE FRAUD AND IDENTITY THEFT
Allegedly Stole the Identities of family members and Tax Return Prep Customers to Commit Fraud
KANDI ROSE ROBERTS aka KANDI KROON, 38, of Las Vegas, Nevada and ERNEST M. ROBERTS, 49, of Bellingham, Washington have been arrested in connection with a 25 count indictment returned by the Federal Grand Jury in the Western District of Washington. ERNEST ROBERTS was arrested yesterday in Everson, Whatcom County, Washington and is being held in the Federal Detention Center at SeaTac pending trial. KANDI ROBERTS was arrested this morning in Las Vegas, Nevada.
According to the indictment, the two were involved in a conspiracy between 2002 and 2004 to defraud the United States by submitting fraudulent tax returns in the names of others. The couple then collected more than $40,000 in tax refunds they were not entitled to. KANDI ROBERTS is charged with nine counts of Making False Claims to the IRS, ERNEST ROBERTS is charged in two of those counts. Both defendants are charged with three counts of False Use of Another Person’s Identifying Information.
In addition to the scheme to defraud the IRS, the indictment alleges the couple also conspired to commit Bank Fraud. According to the indictment the couple made use of personally identifying information of family members and others who had used KANDI ROBERTS tax preparation services. Using that information the couple opened bank and credit accounts. They forged checks on accounts belonging to family members and ran up large credit card bills in the names of family members and others. Some of the charges occurred even after one victim had died. The total Bank and Wire fraud is estimated to exceed $75,000.
KANDI ROBERTS is charged with two counts of Aggravated Identity Theft. If convicted, each of those counts require a 24 month sentence to be served consecutive to any sentence for the underlying fraud offenses. Bank Fraud and Wire Fraud are punishable by up to 30 years in prison. Access Device Fraud is punishable by up to ten years in prison. Fraudulent Use of Another Person’s Identification is punishable by up to 15 years in prison. False Claims to the IRS is punishable by up to five years in prison.
An indictment contains allegations that have not yet been proven at trial beyond a reasonable doubt. Trial in this case has been set for January 23, 2007.
Prosecutors will seek to have KANDI ROBERTS returned to the Western District of Washington for arraignment. ERNEST ROBERTS entered a plea of “Not Guilty” at his arraignment this afternoon.
The case is being investigated by the Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigations (IRS-CI) The case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Kathryn Warma.
For additional information please contact Emily Langlie, Public Affairs Officer for the United States Attorney’s Office, at (206) 553-4110.