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Press Release

Former IRS Employee Found Guilty on All Counts in Scheme to Defraud IRS and Commit Identity Theft

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

FRESNO, Calif. — After a three–day trial, a federal jury found Deena Vang Lee, 41, of Fresno, guilty yesterday of three counts of wire fraud, two counts of aggravated identity theft, five counts of preparing and presenting false and fraudulent returns, and three counts of making and subscribing a false and fraudulent tax return, U.S. Attorney Phillip A. Talbert announced.

According to evidence presented at trial, from 2012 through 2016, Lee willfully prepared and filed tax returns for other individuals that contained materially false and fraudulent statements and underreported her taxable income on her personal tax returns. In her role as a tax preparer, Lee would put false information on the customer’s tax return without their knowledge or consent and submit the returns to the IRS. As part of this scheme, Lee obtained the identification of multiple individuals and falsely listed these individuals as child care providers on multiple customer’s tax returns without their knowledge or consent.

Lee also underreported her own income related to the payments she received for tax preparation services on her personal tax returns for tax years 2013, 2014, and 2015.

“The jury found that this defendant who operated a tax preparation business willfully prepared and filed tax returns for her clients that were false and underreported her own taxable income,” said U.S. Attorney Talbert. “Her scheme to use the tax system to generate larger refunds than deserved came to an end. The U.S. Attorney’s Office will continue to work with the Internal Revenue Service, Criminal Investigation (IRS-CI) and the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA) to use all lawful means to identify and prosecute unscrupulous tax returns preparers like the defendant.”

“Our absolute priority at the IRS is to serve the taxpayers in a manner that fosters confidence in the tax system and compliance with the law,” said Darren Lian, Special Agent in Charge with IRS Criminal Investigation’s Oakland Field Office. “We hold our employees to an even higher standard of expectations and compliance. Unfortunately, Deena Lee betrayed her duty and the trust the American public gave her and suffered the appropriate consequences. We are 100% committed to our tax administration and enforcement mission and will pursue anyone who break the law.”

“Taxpayers put trust in tax preparers to prepare their tax returns in accordance with the law. It is unacceptable for tax preparers to break this confidence by submitting fraudulent returns in their clients’ names,” said J. Russell George, the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration. “The Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration is committed to bringing to justice tax preparers who betray their clients’ trust for their personal gain.”

This case is the product of an investigation by the IRS-CI and TIGTA. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Alex Dempsey and Henry Carbajal are prosecuting the case.

Lee is scheduled to be sentenced by U.S. District Judge Ana de Alba on May 8, 2023. Lee faces a maximum statutory penalty of 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine for each of the wire fraud counts; three years in prison and a $250,0000 fine for each of the preparing and presenting false returns counts; three years in prison and a $250,000 fine for each of the making and subscribing a false tax return counts; and a two-year consecutive mandatory minimum sentence for the aggravate identity theft counts. The actual sentence, however, will 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.

Updated January 27, 2023

Identity Theft