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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
District of Alaska

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Prison inmate arraigned for charges related to alleged false tax refund claims of over $275,000

Anchorage, Alaska - U.S. Attorney Karen L. Loeffler announced today that an Anchorage man was indicted for one count of conspiracy to defraud the government with respect to tax claims, 12 counts mail fraud, and five counts aggravated identity theft.

John Richard Koesterman, 49, of Anchorage, Alaska, was arraigned on June 11, 2013, in Anchorage after having been indicted by a federal grand jury on April 16, 2013.  Koesterman plead not guilty at his arraignment and is currently scheduled for trial beginning August 19, 2013.

According to filings with the court, between July 2009 and May 2011, Koesterman and others conspired to defraud the United States by filing false tax returns in order to obtain fraudulent tax refunds. The conspirators obtained the names and identifying information of people, many of whom were inmates at correctional facilities, without the knowledge of these individuals.  Using this information, the conspirators would prepare and file false income tax returns that reported fictitious wage and withholding information.  Some of the returns also reported false dependent information.  Each fraudulently filed false return claimed that the taxpayer was due a refund of thousands of dollars.  The returns were mailed to the IRS from Anchorage, Alaska, and from Denver and Colorado Springs, Colorado.  A total of 55 false returns claiming $275,127 in fraudulent refunds were filed. These returns used the identifying information of 28 people.

According to the indictment, the false returns used the conspirator’s personal addresses and Treasury checks were mailed to these addresses.  In the case of direct deposits, refunds went into accounts held in the name of a conspirator.  In order to cash checks, in some instances, conspirators forged Power of Attorney documents.  A total of $95,568 was fraudulently obtained from the U.S. Treasury as a result of the scheme.

The identity theft charges of the indictment are the result of Koesterman using, without lawful authority and in relation to mail fraud, the means of identification of three individuals used on false income tax returns.

Koesterman’s indictment contains a forfeiture allegation which stipulates that, upon conviction, Koesterman must forfeit $5,787.75 in currency seized from a bank account and $13,751 seized from a residence.

According to Assistant U.S. Attorney Retta-Rae Randall, if convicted, Koesterman faces up to 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.  Under the Federal Sentencing Guidelines, the actual sentence imposed will be based upon the seriousness of the offense and the prior criminal history of the defendant.

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.

The Internal Revenue Service, Criminal Division, led the investigation of this case.

Updated January 29, 2015