Alabama Return Preparers Plead Guilty to Identity Theft and Tax Fraud Scheme
Yumeitrius Manuel and Margaret Kirksey, both of Montgomery, Ala., pleaded guilty to charges of conspiracy to defraud the government and aggravated identity theft, the Justice Department and Internal Revenue Service (IRS) announced today. Kirksey pleaded guilty today. Manuel pleaded guilty on Jan. 11, 2012. The two had been indicted by a federal grand jury on July 27, 2011, on charges of conspiracy, aggravated identity theft, wire fraud, false claims and lying to federal agents.
According to court documents, Manuel and Kirksey each owned and operated separate tax preparation businesses out of the same physical location in Montgomery. They fraudulently inflated tax refunds by placing false information on their clients’ tax returns. They also filed tax returns in the names and Social Security numbers of individuals who did not know about, and did not authorize, the filing of tax returns on their behalf. Both Manuel and Kirksey admitted that their offenses involved over $1 million in tax loss and more than 50 victims of identity theft.
“The Justice Department is working closely with the IRS to investigate, prosecute and punish tax refund crimes committed through the theft of identities,” said Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General John A. DiCicco of the Justice Department’s Tax Division. “Now, more than ever, we must remain vigilant against the unauthorized use of identification information to defraud the U.S. government.”
“The IRS is aggressively pursuing those who steal others’ identities in order to file false returns,” said Steven Miller, IRS Deputy Commissioner for Services and Enforcement. “Our cooperative work with the U.S. Attorney’s Office and the Tax Division will help protect taxpayers in Alabama from being victimized by identity theft. The IRS is taking additional steps this tax season to further prevent, detect and resolve identity theft cases as soon as possible.”
Sentencing for Manuel has been set for April 25, 2012; sentencing for Kirksey has not been set. Manuel and Kirksey each face a minimum of two years in prison and a potential maximum of up to 12 years in prison, as well as fines of up to $500,000, or twice the loss caused by the offense, mandatory restitution and up to three years of supervised release.
This case was investigated by the IRS Criminal Investigation Division and is being prosecuted by Trial Attorneys Justin Gelfand and Jason Poole of the Tax Division.
Additional information about the Tax Division and its enforcement efforts may be found at www.usdoj.gov/tax.