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Justice News

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

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Tax Franchise Owner Sentenced to Two Years for Identity Theft

Owned and operated four H&R Block tax franchise stores

NORFOLK, Va. – Sherry R. Kelley, 41, of Exmore, Va., was sentenced today to two years in prison, followed by one year of supervised release, for committing aggravated identity theft.

Dana J. Boente, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia; Thomas J. Kelly, Special Agent in Charge of the Internal Revenue Service-Criminal Investigations Washington Field Office; Clark E. Settles, Special Agent in Charge of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations Washington, D.C.; and Captain Timothy A. Reibel, Virginia State Police Bureau of Criminal Investigations, made the announcement after Kelley's sentencing before Senior United States District Judge Robert G. Doumar.

A Norfolk federal grand jury indicted Kelley on June 18, 2014 on 10 counts of aggravated identity theft and 10 counts of using others' social security numbers.  On September 16, 2014, Kelley pleaded guilty to aggravated identity theft, as charged in count one of the indictment.

According to court records, Kelley previously owned and operated four H & R Block tax franchise stores located in Belle Haven, Onley, Melfa, and Cheriton on Virginia's Eastern Shore.  While overseeing the operation of these stores, Kelley gained access to and misused the identity information of approximately 20 tax clients.  Unbeknownst to her clients or H & R Block, during a three year period Kelley electronically applied for and obtained 30 lines of credit from H & R Block Bank in her clients' names and forged her clients' signatures to account paperwork.  Then, using debit cards issued with the approved credit lines, Kelley made thousands of dollars in purchases and ATM cash withdrawals against the fraudulently obtained accounts, before later repaying the sums taken.

This case was jointly investigated by agents with the Internal Revenue Service-Criminal Investigation, Homeland Security Investigations, and the Virginia State Police.  Assistant United States Attorney Robert J. Krask prosecuted the case on behalf of the United States.

A copy of this press release may be found on the website of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Virginia.  Related court documents and information may be found on the website of the District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia or on PACER by searching for Case No.  2:14-cr-92.

Updated March 24, 2015