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Press Release

Former IRS Employee and Another Individual Charged with Stolen Identity Tax Refund Fraud Scheme

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

FRESNO, Calif. — Lorita Marie Rocha, 35, of Fresno, and Nereida Rodriguez, 28, of Firebaugh, were indicted in connection with a long-term tax refund fraud scheme that involved the use of stolen identities and false and fraudulent tax returns, United States Attorney Benjamin B. Wagner announced today.

On January 14, 2016, a federal grand jury returned a five-count indictment against Rocha and Rodriguez charging them with conspiracy to commit wire fraud and four counts of wire fraud. A status conference was set for February 29, 2016, before Magistrate Judge Sheila K. Oberto.

According to court documents, between February 2008 and January 2012, Rocha and Rodriguez conspired to obtain, and help others obtain, payment of false and fraudulent claims for refunds from the IRS. Through her employment by the IRS as a seasonal tax examiner, Rocha obtained the personal information of numerous individuals. Rocha and Rodriguez misappropriated the personal information of more than two dozen individuals and prepared and submitted fraudulent tax returns, making fraudulent claims for refunds in excess of $100,000.

This case is the product of an investigation by the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA) and the Internal Revenue Service-Criminal Investigation. Assistant United States Attorney Henry Z. Carbajal III is prosecuting the case.

If convicted, Rocha and Rodriguez face a maximum statutory penalty of 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine. Any sentence, however, would be determined at the discretion of the court after consideration of any applicable statutory factors and the Federal Sentencing Guidelines, which take into account a number of variables. The charges are only allegations; the defendants are presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.

Updated February 4, 2016

Press Release Number: 1:16-cr-001 LJO