A former Clinton Township resident was sentenced yesterday to 37 months in prison for filing false claims against the United States, U.S. Attorney Barbara L. McQuade announced today.
Ms. McQuade was joined in the announcement by Acting Special Agent in Charge Jarod Koopman, Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigation.
United States District Judge Gerald Rosen also imposed a three-year term of supervised release on Lamarjoire Pharr and ordered him to pay $962,952 in restitution to the Internal Revenue Service.
According to court records, from September 2009 to March 2012, Pharr prepared and electronically filed 363 fraudulent federal income tax returns. Virtually all of the tax returns were filed in the names of deceased individuals whose personal information Pharr had obtained online at the Ancestry.com website without the knowledge of those individuals or their survivors or estates. The tax returns claimed refunds of more than $1.5 million based on false information relating to dependents, various tax credits (e.g., earned income credit), and tax withholdings. Pharr filed the returns electronically from, among other places, hotels in Detroit, Miami Beach, and Atlanta. Pharr received $962,952 in refunds, which he used to further his career as a musician and music producer. Evidence gathered in the investigation shows that the refunds were also used to pay hotels, casinos, department stores, bars and adult entertainment establishments.
United States Attorney McQuade stated, "We hope that this prosecution will raise public awareness about tax fraud schemes involving returns filed on behalf of unwitting victims, who are often deceased. Criminals troll websites and death notices to find potential victims. Family members should be vigilant in safeguarding the taxpayer information of their loved ones."
“Pharr went to elaborate lengths to not only steal money from the government but also to steal the identity of innocent, and in many cases deceased, individuals. His actions caused serious harm to those individuals or their survivors, as well as the American taxpayer, who ultimately becomes the victim in these illegal activities. This sentence should serve as a warning to others that are considering similar schemes, that the IRS-CI will be very aggressive in investigating identity theft,” said Jarod Koopman, Acting Special Agent in Charge.
The investigation of this case was conducted by Special Agents of the IRS Criminal Investigation, and prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Stephen Hiyama.