Chicago Man Guilty of Tax Fraud Scheme; Aggravated Identity Theft, $1.5 Million Allegedly Paid in Fraudulent Tax Returns
PEORIA, Ill. – On Friday, May 18, Senior U.S. District Judge Michael M. Mihm found Clifton “Ty” Robinson, 44, of Chicago, guilty on all counts charged for his role in a tax fraud scheme that resulted in an alleged loss to the government of approximately $1.5 million. Judge Mihm presided over the bench trial which began on May 14.
During the five days of trial, the government presented evidence to the court that established that Robinson and others were responsible for filing more than 300 false federal income tax returns for the 2011 through 2014 tax years. While some individuals knowingly provided their identifying information for use in preparing the false returns, others had no idea how their information had been obtained. Evidence also established that some individuals sold their dependents’ information to Robinson for use on other individuals’ tax returns. Robinson used other members of the conspiracy to obtain identifying information of others and to provide “safe” addresses for the returns. Refunds from the fraudulent returns were deposited to bank accounts and prepaid debit cards controlled by members of the conspiracy.
As a result of the more than 300 false returns filed, Robinson and others claimed more than $1.8 million in refunds. Of the $1.8 million claimed, approximately $1.5 million was paid out by the U.S. Treasury.
Prior to trial, four additional defendants pleaded guilty to the conspiracy to defraud the government: Velma Robertson, 43, of La Grange, Ill.; and three defendants from Peoria, Ill.: Monique Bonner, 42; Brieanna Kinney-Bonner, 30; and Tawanda Davis, 36.
Robinson is currently in the custody of the U.S. Marshals Service. Sentencing for Robinson, Kinney-Bonner, and Davis is scheduled on Sept. 4. Sentencing for Robertson is set for July 25.
At sentencing, the statutory penalty for conspiracy to defraud the government is up to 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine. In addition to the conspiracy count, Robinson faces statutory penalties for mail fraud (five counts) and wire fraud (eight counts) of up to 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine for each count. The offense of aggravated identity theft (two counts) carries a mandatory two years in prison consecutive to any other term of imprisonment and a $250,000 fine.
The charges were investigated by the Internal Revenue Service, Criminal Investigation. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Darilynn Knauss, Segev Phillips, and Kate Legge represented the government at trial.