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Justice News

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

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Thursday, December 4, 2014

Former New Orleans Tax Return Preparer, Indicted for Theft of Public Money, Wire Fraud, Aggravated Identity Theft

DONALD STEWART, age 58, a former tax return preparer and resident of New Orleans, was indicted today for six counts of theft of public funds, two counts of wire fraud, and six counts of aggravated identity theft, announced United States Attorney Kenneth Allen Polite, Jr. and Acting Deputy Assistant Attorney General Larry J. Wszalek of the Justice Department’s Tax Division.  According to the indictment, STEWART acted as a return preparer from approximately 2001 through 2008, before the IRS suspended his Electronic Filing Information Number.

As charged in the indictment, from January 2011 through February 2012, STEWART caused federal tax refunds in the names of others to be electronically deposited into bank accounts under his control.  These deposits totaled approximately $37,809.  STEWART is charged with two counts of wire fraud related to his filing of two specific false income tax returns in early 2011.  The indictment further alleges that STEWART cashed or deposited U.S. Treasury checks, which represented federal income tax refunds, at a bank in the New Orleans area.  These U.S. Treasury checks totaled approximately $539,393.  Finally, STEWART is charged with aggravated identity theft for using the means of identification of others during and in relation with wire fraud and theft of public money.

STEWART faces a maximum term of twenty years imprisonment for each wire fraud charge, ten years imprisonment for each theft of public money count, and a mandatory term of two years imprisonment for each charge of aggravated identity theft.  As to each count, he also faces a fine of $250,000, or twice the gross gain or loss caused by the offense, and terms of supervised release.

U. S. Attorney Polite and Acting Deputy Assistant Attorney General Wszalek reiterated that the Indictment is merely a charge and that the guilt of the defendant must be proven beyond a reasonable doubt.

The case was investigated by IRS-Criminal Investigation.  It is being prosecuted by Tax Division Trial Attorneys Hayden Brockett and Lauren Castaldi and Assistant United States Attorney Carter K. D. Guice, Jr.

Updated December 4, 2014