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Justice News

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

Monday, March 10, 2014

Final Defendant In Tax Fraud Scheme Pleads Guilty

Wendell Cisco, 39, of York, PA, pleaded guilty today to his role in a tax fraud scheme that bilked the government of over $1.8 million. Cisco is one of nine defendants who participated in a conspiracy to defraud the Internal Revenue Service through false tax returns. Cisco pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to file false claims and one count of theft of government property, admitting responsibility for $525,434.74 in actual losses. Sentencing is scheduled for June 16, 2014. Cisco faces a statutory maximum sentence of 20 years in prison plus possible restitution to the IRS. He is the last defendant to plead guilty.

Between September 2006 and March 2011, Michael Akers filed false tax returns on behalf of people who believed he was a legitimate tax preparer, who knew he was not a legitimate tax preparer, or who had their identities stolen and did not know tax returns were being filed. Akers would allegedly: inflate the amount of taxes paid by a tax filer, claim refunds to which the filer was not entitled, file the return electronically, have the refund electronically deposited into a bank account, and take a cut of the refund check. Each fraudulent return resulted in a refund in the thousands of dollars. Cisco, and each of the other co-defendants, facilitated the fraudulent returns by providing Akers tax payers’ identity information for Akers to prepare the false returns or by providing Akers bank accounts into which Akers could direct the IRS to send the refunds. The scheme attempted to defraud the government of more than $3.2 million, with actual losses of more than $1.8 million.

Money was passed among members of the conspiracy in face to face hand-offs, and in wire transfers among some of the defendants.

Charged in the original indictment were: Michael Akers, of Philadelphia and Cherry Hill, NJ, Raymond Holmes, of Philadelphia, William Fisher, of Philadelphia, Lynell Matthews and Latoya Matthews, both of Whitesboro, NJ, Maria Latorre, of York, PA, and Jalon Hopewell, of Philadelphia. Ruby Jones, of Philadelphia, was charged separately by information.  

The case was investigated by the Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigation Division and the United States Secret Service. It is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Sarah Grieb and Special Assistant United States Attorney Karen Fox.

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Updated December 15, 2014