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Press Release

Philadelphia Man Pleads Guilty To Conspiring to file 1.2 Million in False Tax Returns

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

Voncel R. Harrigan, Sr., 51, of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania entered a plea of guilty to one count of conspiracy to file false income tax returns, announced Acting United States Attorney Louis D. Lappen.

According to court documents, the charges arose from Harrigan’s daughter, Vontia Jones’ tax fraud and identity theft scheme to obtain tax refunds from the IRS by filing over 700 false tax returns amounting to over three million dollars in the tax years 2008 through 2013. Defendant Jones operated a “business” she called “Jones Tax Service” which operated out of her home in Philadelphia. Jones designed multiple flyers for distribution advertising her services that stated “DON’T YOU DESERVE SOME INCOME TAX MONEY TOO? $750 [PER CHILD] WELFARE SOCIAL SECURITY UNEMPLOYMENT DISABILITY EVEN IF YOU NEVER HAD A JOB.” Defendant Jones conspired with her father, Voncel R. Harrigan, Sr., her sister, Michele Wood, and others who solicited personal identifying information from individuals under the guise that Jones’ business would get them “tax money” even if they never worked. Defendant Jones used the individuals’ information to file false tax returns and open bank accounts so that fraudulent tax refunds could be deposited and withdrawn from those accounts.

Among other things, defendant Harrigan opened up a business account so that the fraudulent tax refund checks could be deposited into that account. Defendant Harrigan made deposits of fraudulent tax refund checks, forged signatures on checks, and made withdrawals from that business account. This account had approximately $206,751, deposited in fraudulent tax refunds. Harrigan participated in the false claims conspiracy from February 9, 2011, when he opened the account, through January 24, 2012, when search warrants were executed at his home and defendant Jones’ home. During this time period, the conspiracy included 282 fraudulent tax returns (for the 2010 and 2011 tax years), which collectively claimed refunds of $1,233,974.

The defendant faces a maximum possible sentence of 10 years’ imprisonment, 3 years supervised release, $250,000 fine, $100 special assessment

The case was investigated by Internal Revenue Service, Criminal Investigations and the Federal Bureau of Investigation and is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Jessica Natali.

Updated April 27, 2017