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Justice News

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

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Stockton Residents Indicted In Phony Tax Return Scheme

FRESNO, Calif. — Two Stockton residents were indicted today for a conspiracy to fraudulently obtain tax refunds, United States Attorney Benjamin B. Wagner announced.

Vivian Marie Williams, 49, 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, was charged with one count of conspiracy.

According to the indictment, Williams was a tax preparer who operated out of her home using the business name Williams Financial Service. Between January 2010 and March 2011, Williams allegedly submitted tax returns for both legitimate clients and in the names of victims of identity theft. The tax returns for legitimate clients reported inflated business and wage income, which allowed the taxpayers to claim a higher tax refund as a result of the Earned Income Tax Credit and the Child Tax Credit. The tax returns for victims of identity theft were allegedly submitted without the knowledge of the taxpayers, and allowed Williams to collect tax refunds on their behalf. The indictment alleges that Morris conspired with Williams in the scheme to file tax returns on behalf of victims of identity theft, allowed Williams to use his bank accounts for the deposit of tax refunds, and then shared in the proceeds with Williams.

This case is the product of an investigation by the Internal Revenue Service, Criminal Investigation. Assistant United States Attorney Mark J. McKeon is prosecuting the case.

If convicted, Williams faces a maximum statutory penalty of five years in prison and a $250,000 fine for each count of filing a false claim; 15 years in prison and a $250,000 fine for each count of identity theft; and three years in prison and a $250,000 fine for each count of aiding in the preparation of false tax returns. Williams and Morris each face a maximum statutory penalty of 15 years in prison and a $250,000 fine for conspiracy. 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 defendant is presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.

Updated April 8, 2015