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Press Release

Former Alabama Nightclub Owner and Ringleader of Stolen Identity Tax Refund Fraud Scheme Sentenced to Prison

For Immediate Release
Office of Public Affairs

The ringleader of a stolen identity tax refund fraud scheme and former nightclub owner was sentenced yesterday in the U.S. District Court in Montgomery, Alabama, for stolen identity refund fraud related crimes, announced Acting Assistant Attorney General Caroline D. Ciraolo of the Justice Department’s Tax Division and U.S. Attorney George L. Beck Jr. of the Middle District of Alabama.

Tarrish Tellis, 38, of Montgomery, was sentenced to serve 223 months in federal prison, three years of supervised release and ordered to pay $694,366 in restitution.  On Jan. 14, a federal jury convicted Tellis of conspiracy to commit theft of public money, theft of public money and aggravated identity theft.

“As evidenced by today’s sentence, individuals like Mr. Tellis, who commit stolen identity theft crimes and in doing so, victimize innocent American taxpayers and brazenly steal from the U.S. Treasury, face lengthy incarceration and substantial financial penalties,” said Acting Assistant Attorney General Ciraolo.  “The Tax Division and its law enforcement partners stand ready to vigorously pursue and prosecute these offenders to the fullest extent of the law.”

According to evidence presented at trial, Tellis, the former owner of Club Iconz Bar and Grill in Montgomery, masterminded a more than $700,000 stolen identity tax refund scheme.  Tellis’ co-conspirator, Nakia Jackson, obtained approximately 700 names, dates of birth and social security numbers from an employee of the Alabama Medicaid State Agency.  Jackson provided some of the stolen names to Tellis, who in turn used them to file false income tax returns.  In exchange, Tellis taught Jackson how to file false tax returns.

Tellis concealed the origin of the tax refund proceeds by recruiting friends and relatives, including Bobby Joe Means, Delancey Tolliver, Glen Powell Jr. and Tracey Montgomery, to open up bank accounts for the purpose of receiving the tax refunds.  When the refunds were deposited into their bank accounts, Tellis directed them to withdraw the money and provide it to him.  On the false tax returns submitted to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), Tellis directed more than $300,000 in refunds to be deposited in those accounts.  Tellis also recruited a bank teller, Laquanta Clayton, who used her position to open up bank accounts in the name of fictitious individuals and in the name of her daughter’s father.  On the false tax returns submitted to the IRS, Tellis directed approximately $200,000 in refunds to be deposited into the accounts that Clayton controlled.  Clayton withdrew the refund proceeds in cash and provided the majority of the money to Tellis.  Tellis also took steps to conceal his involvement in the filing of false tax returns, including filing numerous tax returns by accessing another person’s residential wireless router that was not password protected so that it appeared as though the owner of the residence had filed the returns.

In 2014, Tellis’ co-conspirators were sentenced to prison for their involvement in the stolen identity refund fraud scheme.  Jackson was sentenced to serve 87 months in prison, Clayton was sentenced to serve 21 months in prison, Tolliver was sentenced to serve 15 months in prison, Powell Jr. and Means were each sentenced to serve 12 months and one day in prison and Montgomery was sentenced to serve six months in prison.

Acting Assistant Attorney General Ciraolo and U.S. Attorney Beck commended the special agents of IRS-Criminal Investigation, who investigated the case, and Trial Attorneys Gregory P. Bailey, Charles M. Edgar Jr. and Michael C. Boteler of the Tax Division and Assistant U.S. Attorney Todd Brown of the Middle District of Alabama, who prosecuted the case.

Additional information about the Tax Division and its enforcement efforts may be found at the division website.

Updated May 18, 2016

Press Release Number: 15-461