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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Middle District of Florida

Monday, March 10, 2014

Ohio Couple Sentenced For Attempting To Defraud Creditors And Fraudulently Obtaining Tax Refund Money

Orlando, Florida – U.S. District Judge Gregory A. Presnell today sentenced Stephen Richnafsky (38, North Royalton, OH) to 20 months in federal prison for mail fraud and obstruction of Internal Revenue laws.  The court also ordered Richnafsky to make full restitution to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) in the amount of $42,021.88.  Additionally, Richnafsky's domestic partner, Scylina Spikes (40, North Royalton, Ohio), was sentenced to two years of probation for her role in the mail fraud scheme.  Richnafsky and Spikes both pleaded guilty on November 19, 2013.

According to court documents, between July 2009 and August 2010, Richnafsky and Spikes conspired to evade their debts by mailing fraudulent documents, through the U.S. Mail, to their creditors. These documents included letters disguised as official documents, fraudulent promissory notes, and other documents directing creditors to collect funds from fictitious "treasury accounts."  The documents also included bills and account statements which were stamped or handwritten with statements such as "accepted for value and returned for value," and IRS Forms that were fraudulently presented as forms of payment. When creditors refused to accept these documents in satisfaction of Richnafsky’s and Spikes's debts, Richnafsky and Spikes would attempt to file personal liens against the employees, executives, and attorneys of the creditors.  Richnafsky also filed four fraudulent tax returns, which falsely claimed taxes withheld from interest income from financial institutions. For tax years 2005-2008, Richnafsky claimed that the IRS had withheld more than $181,000 in interest income, when in fact no such income had ever been withheld. As a result of these filings, the IRS issued a refund of $42,021.88 to Richnafsky.

This case was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Internal Revenue Service – Criminal Investigation. It is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Vincent S. Chiu.

Updated January 26, 2015