News and Press Releases

Defendant Recruited Low-Income Women to File False Tax Returns

October 5, 2007

DONALD SHAWN VINSON, 37, of Seattle Washington, was sentenced today in U.S. District Court in Seattle to two years in prison, three years of supervised release and $20,095 in restitution for Conspiracy to Defraud the United States. VINSON pleaded guilty June 14, 2007, admitting that in 2003, he worked with at least eight other people to defraud the IRS by submitting false W-2 forms and claiming false dependants on tax returns. At sentencing U.S. District Judge Ricardo S. Martinez noted that VINSON had a lengthy criminal history, but had appeared to turn his life around shortly before his federal arrest. “I hope you are honest and truthful when you say that hanging out with the wrong people got you here, and you won’t make that mistake in the future.”

According to documents filed in the case, VINSON recruited other people (“filers”) to file fraudulent tax returns in their own names, addresses and social security numbers. VINSON created false Forms W-2, with fabricated amounts of tax withholdings, in the names and social security numbers of the filers. VINSON further caused the filers to claim dependents on their tax returns in order to fraudulently obtain the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC). VINSON knew that these filers were not entitled to the EITC either because the named dependents were not actual dependents of the filer, or because the wages reflected on the returns were reported in fraudulent amounts permitting the unlawful application of the EITC. The amounts claimed by VINSON total over $30,000, and involve federal income tax returns filed for the 2003 and 2004 tax years. VINSON drove some of the filers to tax preparation offices so they could make their false filings, and then took half of the money the filers got as a tax refund.

In asking for the two year sentence, Assistant United States Attorney Janet Freeman noted that the tax filers might not have engaged in this criminal conduct if they had not been recruited by VINSON. “The defendant instructed others on how to commit the fraud. He provided the necessary paperwork for them to do so. The filers used their real names and social security numbers and, thus, they were the ones left holding the bag.” The filers, many of them single mothers or low-income women on public assistance, will have to repay the IRS for the refunds including penalties and interest, and they will have their tax accounts flagged for any irregularities for years to come.

The case was investigated by the Internal Revenue Service - Criminal Investigation and was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Janet Freeman.

For additional information please contact Emily Langlie, Public Affairs Officer for the United States Attorney’s Office, at (206) 553-4110.

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