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Press Release

Stockton Woman Pleads Guilty in Phony Tax Return Scheme

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

FRESNO, Calif. — Vivian Marie Williams, 51, of Stockton, pleaded guilty today to a conspiracy to submit false claims for income tax refunds and to identity theft, Acting United States Attorney Phillip A. Talbert announced.

According to court documents, Williams was a tax preparer who operated out of her home in Stockton, using the business name Williams Financial Service. Between January 2010 and March 2011, Williams 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 submitted without the knowledge of the taxpayers, and allowed Williams to collect tax refunds on their behalf. During the scheme, Williams admitted she submitted at least $61,531 in false claims to the IRS.

Co-defendant Darrell Lemont Morris, 45, of Stockton, allegedly conspired with Williams and allowed her to use his bank accounts for the deposit of tax refunds of victims of identity theft, and then shared in the proceeds with Williams. The case against Morris is still pending. He is scheduled for a status conference on July 25, 2016, at 1:00 PM before U.S. Magistrate Judge Barbara A. McAuliffe. The charges are only allegations; he is presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.

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.

Williams is scheduled to be sentenced by United States District Judge Dale A. Drozd on October 17, 2016. Williams faces a maximum statutory penalty of 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine for the conspiracy; and 15 years in prison and a $250,000 fine for identity theft. 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 July 5, 2016

Press Release Number: 1:15-cr-028-DAD