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Press Release

Kauai Woman Pleads Guilty To Multiple Wire Fraud Schemes And Aggravated Identity Theft

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

HONOLULU – Leihinahina Sullivan, 49, of Lihue, Kauai, pleaded guilty yesterday before Chief United States District Judge J. Michael Seabright to three counts of wire fraud and one count of aggravated identity theft related to multiple long-running fraudulent schemes. Sentencing is set before Chief Judge Seabright on December 2, 2021.

Court documents and information provided in court described three fraud schemes Sullivan perpetrated. Beginning as early as January 31, 2011, through at least August 23, 2017, Sullivan devised a tax fraud scheme to obtain tax refunds from the IRS and the State of Hawaii that she and the other individuals were not entitled to receive by filing false returns for herself and for others. The false federal and state tax returns included fictitious expenses, claims for credits, and other items Sullivan knew were false when made. Sullivan did not review these tax returns with the individuals before she filed the tax returns in their names.

Sullivan transferred the fraudulent tax refunds into several bank accounts that she had access to and controlled, including her personal bank accounts and those of friends and family members, and a non-profit entity that she controlled. Sullivan then spent these tax refunds on personal expenses for herself, her family, and her friends.

The second scheme involved educational fraud and began January 8, 2011 and lasted through at least February 1, 2017. For college-bound students Sullivan prepared and submitted false student loan, grant, scholarship, and financial aid applications and documents that requested money from public and private educational-based financial assistance and aid providers. Sullivan transferred some money from students’ financial aid applications to her personal bank accounts and other bank accounts she controlled, then spent the money on her own personal and other expenses, such as for home construction, retail purchases, and her bills.

In the last fraud scheme Sullivan used personal identification information of many individuals, such as social security numbers and birth dates, to apply for and use credit cards in other peoples’ names without their authorization. In one instance, she submitted an electronic credit card application for an individual whom she knew died on the same day she sent in the application.

Sullivan faces a maximum penalty of 20 years imprisonment and a fine of not more than $250,000 as to each of the three counts of wire fraud, and a mandatory sentence of two years in prison in addition to any other sentence imposed by the court and a fine of up to $250,000 on aggravated identity theft when she is sentenced. Chief Judge Seabright will determine any sentence after considering the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.

Acting United States Attorney Judith A. Philips and IRS Criminal Investigation (IRS-CI) Acting Special Agent in Charge Corinne Kalve made the announcement today.

Acting U.S. Attorney Philips said: “Sullivan’s fraud was wide-ranging and lasted for years. Her web of lies and manipulation ends with this case. She will be held accountable for the damage she caused by her fraudulent schemes and the money she stole from friends, family, individuals in her community, and public and private institutions.”

“Sullivan admitted to defrauding her community and taking money from taxpayers, students, and financial institutions for her own personal profit,” said Acting Special Agent in Charge Corinne Kalve of IRS-CI. “This guilty plea is a reminder that IRS-CI will continue to follow the money and investigate those who prey on their communities.”

This conviction is the result of an investigation led by IRS-CI and involving Department of Education, Office of Inspector General, and the FBI. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Rebecca A. Perlmutter and Mohammad Khatib of the District of Hawaii are prosecuting the case.

Updated July 21, 2021

Financial Fraud