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Press Release

Four indicted by Federal Grand Jury for prisoner tax fraud scheme and aggravated identity theft

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, District of Alaska

Anchorage, Alaska - U.S. Attorney Karen L. Loeffler announced today that three men and a woman have been indicted by a federal grand jury in Anchorage, Alaska, on 46 counts of conspiracy to defraud the government, mail fraud, and aggravated identity theft related to a prisoner tax fraud scheme. 

The four defendants named in the indictment are Anchorage residents Steven McComb, 46, Michael Sexton, 42, Paulando Williams, 47, and Helen Maloney, 44.  McComb, Williams, and Maloney are scheduled to be arraigned in federal court today.  Sexton has not yet been arrested.

According to the indictment, between 2010 and 2012, the defendants joined in a conspiracy to file false tax returns and obtain tax refunds from the United States Treasury to which the defendants knew they were not entitled.  The defendants obtained the names and social security numbers of individuals, many of whom were inmates at correctional facilities.  The defendants prepared false individual income tax returns claiming false wages and withholding amounts, for which there were no W-2 Forms actually issued by employers.  Each return claimed that the taxpayer was owed thousands of dollars in refunds for which the defendants were not entitled.  The charges allege that the conspirators forged the individuals’ signatures on the false tax returns, used their own personal addresses on those forms and mailed the false income tax returns to the Internal Revenue Service. 

The conspiracy allegation includes that the conspirators prepared and submitted by mail approximately 100 false tax returns using the names and social security numbers of approximately 35 individuals seeking approximately $213,267 in fraudulent refund claims.  As a result of the fraud, the U.S. Treasury sent refunds of approximately $110,698 out of the $213,267 falsely claimed in their fraudulent tax returns. 

The statutory maximum penalty for conspiracy to defraud the government with respect to claims is 10 years’ imprisonment, 3 years’ supervised release, and a $250,000 fine. The statutory maximum penalty for mail fraud is 20 years’ imprisonment, 5 years’ supervised release, and a $250,000 fine.  The statutory penalty for aggravated identity theft is a mandatory consecutive sentence of 2 years’ imprisonment.  All four defendants are charged with a criminal forfeiture allegation for their interest in any property which constitutes or is derived from proceeds traceable to a violation of mail fraud or a money judgment not to exceed $110,698.

Ms. Loeffler commends the Internal Revenue Service – Criminal Investigation Division for the investigation of this case.

An indictment is only a charge and is not evidence of guilt.  A defendant is presumed innocent and is entitled to a fair trial at which the government must prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.

Updated January 29, 2015