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Justice News

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

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Three Milwaukee Persons Convicted for Sending Fraudulently Obtained Funds to the Ukraine

Today, Gregory J. Haanstad, Acting United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Wisconsin, announced that Vladimir Sonin (age 50) of Bayside, Wisconsin; Natalya Sonina (age 47) of Bayside, Wisconsin; and Irina Tinney (age 47) of Milwaukee, Wisconsin entered guilty pleas in federal court. According to court documents, on June 9, 2015, all three individuals were indicted on various offenses related to a scheme to fraudulently obtain more than $1.1 million in federal and state tax refunds from 2013 through 2015. 

Vladimir Sonin and his wife Natalya Sonin pled guilty to counts five and fifteen of the indictment which alleged mail fraud in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 1341 and aggravated identity theft in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 1028A.  The Sonins face a maximum penalty of 20 years imprisonment, a $250,000 fine, and 3 years of supervised release for the mail fraud convictions, plus a two year consecutive sentence and a $250,000 fine for aggravated identity theft. According to their plea agreements, the scheme involved the filing of fraudulent tax returns in the names of identity theft victims.  Funds from fraudulently-obtained tax returns were loaded onto access devices, such as bank cards, and the money was then withdrawn from ATMs.  Most of the money was then sent to the Ukraine, much of it to the brother of Natalya Sonin and Irina Tinney.  More than $1.1 million was sent to the Ukraine using cash wire transfers.  The Internal Revenue Service identified more than 1500 unauthorized tax returns filed using stolen identities from Southeastern Wisconsin

Irina Tinney pled guilty to one count of structuring to evade reporting requirements in violation of Title 31, United States Code, Section 5324. Tinney faces a maximum penalty of five years imprisonment, $250,000 fine, and 3 years of supervised release. 

The case was investigated by the Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigation, the Postal Inspection Service and the Federal Bureau of Investigation. This case was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Stephen A. Ingraham.

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Updated December 10, 2015