Milwaukee Woman Sentenced to 2 ½ Years in Prison for Filing False Federal Tax Returns and Food Stamp Fraud
James L. Santelle, the United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Wisconsin, announced that on July 31, 2014, Tiffiny Leanna Harden (age: 30) of Menomonee Falls was sentenced before Judge Rudolph T. Randa on charges of filing false claims against the United States, mail fraud, and food stamp fraud. Harden was sentenced to thirty months in federal prison and was given three years supervised release. Harden was also ordered to pay $120,525 in restitution, requiring Harden to pay $120,125 to the Internal Revenue Service and $400 to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program.
Harden pleaded guilty to the federal charges on April 11, 2014. Records filed in court indicate that
Harden fraudulently filed a total of at least 35 tax returns for the 2011 tax year seeking total refunds of at least $229,522. Of the $229,522 in refunds that was attempted to be received by Harden, she obtained $120,125 in tax refunds that were deposited into her bank’s accounts.
Court documents indicate that Harden sought tax refunds by claiming false incomes, false education credits and/or claiming false dependents for the taxpayers. Several of the taxpayers told law enforcement officials that they did not know Harden and did not know how she got their information. Others stated that Harden had offered to help them fill out their returns and they provided her with their identifying information, but never heard back from her. Many of the victims indicated that Harden had offered to fill out their tax returns for them, but the victims never provided Harden with the information regarding the employer, educational status, or the dependents listed in the returns using their identities. At least two taxpayers did not know that they were claimed as dependents. Harden used the United States mail to receive and send false information to the IRS.
In addition, during the time she was receiving the tax refunds, she also committed food stamp fraud. In order to receive this federal benefit, she claimed in her Food Share application to be homeless during that period and failed to disclose the fact that she had received over $100,000 from the fraudulent tax return scheme during the months of February and March 2012.
This case was jointly investigated by the Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigative, the United States Postal Inspection Service and the United States Department of Agriculture. The case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Karine Moreno-Taxman.