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Justice News

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

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Tax Preparer Pleads Guilty To Identity Theft

NORFOLK, Va. – Sherry R. Kelley, age 41, of Exmore, Va., pleaded guilty today to engaging in aggravated identity theft.

Dana J. Boente, United States 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 Settles, Special Agent in Charge, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) Washington; and Captain Timothy A. Reibel, Virginia State Police Bureau of Criminal Investigations, made the announcement after the plea was accepted by Senior United States District Judge Robert G. Doumar.

A Norfolk federal grand jury indicted Kelley on June 18, 2014 on ten counts of aggravated identity theft and ten counts of using others' social security numbers. As a result of her guilty plea to count one of the indictment, Kelley faces a mandatory penalty of two years of incarceration when she is sentenced on January 20, 2015.

As reported in a statement of facts filed with the plea agreement, 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, Kelley electronically applied for and obtained 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 is prosecuting the case on behalf of the United States.

A copy of this press release may be found on the website of the United States Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Virginia at http://www.justice.gov/usao/vae. Related court documents and information may be found on the website of the District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia at http://www.vaed.uscourts.gov or on https://pcl.uscourts.gov.

Updated March 25, 2015