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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Eastern District of California

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Federal Tax Enforcement Is A Focus Of Prosecutions In The First Quarter Of 2015

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — With the annual tax filing deadline approaching tomorrow on April 15, United States Attorney Benjamin B. Wagner noted that his office had taken a number of criminal enforcement actions in recent months in the Eastern District of California. The U.S. Attorney’s Office works with the Internal Revenue Service – Criminal Investigation and other law enforcement partners to enforce federal tax laws.

“This is an appropriate time of year to remind those few individuals who set out to cheat or evade their tax obligations that such conduct can result in prosecution,” said U.S. Attorney Wagner. “Every year some deliberately fail to file required returns or file false and fraudulent returns in order to evade the assessment and payment of tax due. It is the obligation of this office to pursue and prosecute them for their criminal conduct.”

“All Americans have a duty and responsibility to pay taxes. In today’s economic environment, it’s more important than ever that the American people feel confident that everyone is playing by the rules and paying the taxes they owe,” said José M. Martinez, IRS ‑ Criminal Investigation Special Agent in Charge of the Oakland Field Office. “Those Americans who file accurate, honest and timely returns can be assured that the government will hold accountable those who don’t. The IRS Criminal Investigation Division, together with the Department of Justice, will investigate and prosecute those who violate our tax system.”

Eastern District of California indictments so far in 2015 have included:

(The charges in an indictment are only allegations; the defendant is presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.)

United States v. Clint D. Bonderer et al. — According to the indictment, Bonderer, 38, of Stockton, and Slavic Khudoy, 35, of Loomis conspired to submit false claims that included false statements about the taxpayers’ income, filing status, and address, and fraudulently claimed credits. Between 2010 and 2012, they submitted 842 fraudulent tax returns, requesting more than $600,000 in refunds in the names of other people. In most cases, they kept the refunds for themselves. (2:15-cr-28)

United States v. Lejohn Windom Sr. et al. — According to the indictment, Sacramento residents Windom Sr., 52; Lejohn Windon Jr., 22; Tracy Hartway, 30; and Audrey Johnson, 48, filed 682 income tax returns, requesting nearly $2 million in fraudulent refunds. They used stolen IDs requesting tax refunds and forged the names of the taxpayers to make the fraudulent refund checks payable to themselves. (2:15-cr-29)

United States v. Emilio Lara — According to the indictment, Lara, 48, of American Canyon, owned and operated two income tax preparation services in Solano County. He was charged in a 38‑count indictment with preparing fraudulent income tax returns for clients. From 2009 to 2012, Lara helped clients claim false itemized deductions such as medical and dental expenses, charitable contributions, and unreimbursed employee expenses ranging from $740 to $19,093, for a total of $462,392. (2:15-cr-39)

United States v. Linda J. Miller — According to the indictment, Miller, 62, of Benicia, was charged with filing a false tax return. (2:15-cr-66)

United States v. Vivian Williams et al. — According to the indictment, Williams, 49, a tax preparer who operated out of her home in Stockton, was charged with 44 counts of conspiracy, false claims to a government agency, identity theft, and aiding and assisting in the preparation of false and fraudulent tax returns. Darrell Lemont Morris, 43, of Stockton, was charged with one count of conspiracy. Between January 2010 and March 2011, Williams submitted tax returns for clients reporting false income allowing the taxpayers to claim a higher tax refund as a result of the Earned Income Tax Credit and the Child Tax Credit. She filed tax returns for other taxpayers without their knowledge and collected their tax refunds. Morris allowed Williams to use his bank accounts for the deposit of tax refunds, and then shared in the proceeds with Williams. (1:15-cr-28)

United States v. Yolanda Castro — According to the indictment, Castro, 45, a 20-year employee of the IRS in Fresno, was charged with 10 counts of tax fraud and making false statements to a government agency. Between 2007 and 2013, she prepared and filed false federal income tax returns for herself, her family members and others in which she fraudulently claimed tax deductions and credits. On her own 2008 tax return, Castro claimed a credit for education expenses that she did not incur and provided phony textbook receipts to support the claim. Likewise, in tax returns she prepared for herself and others, Castro claimed child care expenses that had not been incurred. (1:15-cr-50)

United States v. Elaina S. Norris — According to the indictment, seasonal tax examiner Norris, 34, of Fresno, was charged with assisting a relative in filing a tax return that falsely claimed two individuals as dependents using the personal information she obtained through her employment at the IRS Service Center. She is also charged with falsely claiming a dependent on two of her personal tax returns, resulting in the receipt of tax credits and deductions that she was not authorized to receive. (1:15-cr-072)

United States v. Brandon Adam Eidson — According to the indictment, Eidson, 34, of Turlock, operated a hydroponics equipment and supply business and is charged with three counts of filing false tax forms, one count of drug distribution, and one count of structuring cash transactions. Between 2008 and 2010, he underreported his gross receipts by over $1.2 million. (1:15-cr-85)

Other actions so far this year:

On January 20, 2015, Rebekah Root, 34, of Visalia, was sentenced to three years and nine months in prison for wire fraud, making a false claim for a tax refund, and aggravated identity theft. According to court documents, in 2011, Root obtained tax documents that were stolen from an IRS office in Visalia. She used those tax documents to submit false tax returns on behalf of six taxpayers, without their knowledge or permission, and claimed approximately $50,000 in fraudulent tax refunds. (1:13-cr-376)

On January 20, 2015, Federico Garcia Garcia, 46, of Arvin, was sentenced to two years in prison for filing false claims with the IRS in a scheme to obtain tax refunds. He was also ordered pay $79,932 in restitution to the IRS. According to his plea agreement, between October 2007 and December 2008, Garcia caused 147 false federal income tax returns to be submitted to the IRS in the names of third parties with fabricated W-2s that contained false wage and withholding information. Garcia made fraudulent claims for approximately $308,317 in federal tax refunds in the scheme, and the IRS paid out approximately $79,932. (1:13-cr-233)

On February 9, 2015, Christine Rose Caraway, 34, of Modesto, pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to defraud the United States. According to court documents, from about December 2010 to May 2011, Caraway and her former spouse Heath Roberson obtained personal identifying information from over 40 individuals. Caraway used this information to generate false tax returns seeking over $121,000 in tax refunds and submitted them to the IRS. Roberson pleaded guilty in April 2014 and was sentenced to two years and nine months in prison and to pay over $66,000 in restitution to the IRS. Sentencing for Caraway is set for April 20, 2015. (1:13-cr-171)

On March 13, 2015, a jury convicted Terrylyn McCain, 67, of Stockton, of a scheme to defraud the United States by filing false tax returns and buying gold with the proceeds of the fraud. According to evidence presented at trial, McCain filed at least 12 fraudulent returns that sought nearly $3 million in tax refunds. In one instance, early in the scheme, the IRS refunded $156,373 to McCain. Within the month, she had used the refund money to purchase approximately $62,000 in gold coins. Sentencing for McCain is set for June 4, 2015. (2:12-cr-144)

More criminal tax investigations are underway.

Updated April 16, 2015