Two Louisiana Residents Plead Guilty in Stolen Identity Tax Fraud Scheme
Two residents of Tangipahoa Parish, Louisiana, pleaded guilty today to one count of conspiracy to defraud the United States and to commit theft of public money and mail fraud, with one defendant also pleading guilty to aggravated identity theft, announced Acting Assistant Attorney General Caroline D. Ciraolo of the Justice Department’s Tax Division and U.S. Attorney Kenneth Allen Polite Jr. of the Eastern District of Louisiana.
According to court documents, Corey Lewis, also known as Coco, 37, and Craig Lewis, 40, conspired with each other and others to file false federal income tax returns using stolen identities including false claims for tax refunds. The defendants and others used individuals’ names and social security numbers in order to prepare false tax returns. They directed the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) to mail refund checks to addresses in Louisiana, including to post office boxes that were opened by co-conspirators. Corey Lewis and others falsely endorsed and deposited the refund checks into bank accounts under their control. The proceeds of the refund checks would then be divided amongst the co-conspirators.
The defendants are scheduled to be sentenced in U.S. District Court in the Eastern District of Louisiana on Sept. 22 and each face a statutory maximum sentence of five years in prison and a fine of $250,000 for the conspiracy count. Corey Lewis also faces a mandatory minimum sentence of two years in prison for aggravated identity theft. The defendants also face potential fines, forfeiture and restitution. Brad Lewis, also known as Bird, 32, and Cedrick Mitchell, also known as Skeet, 39, previously pleaded guilty to the same conspiracy charge and await their sentencing hearings on Aug. 25 and Sept. 15, respectively.
Acting Assistant Attorney General Ciraolo and U.S. Attorney Polite commended special agents of IRS-Criminal Investigation and the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, who investigated the case, and Trial Attorneys Hayden Brockett and Lauren Castaldi of the Tax Division and Assistant U.S. Attorney Dall Kammer of the Eastern District of Louisiana, who are prosecuting the case.