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Justice News

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

Thursday, July 26, 2018

Ashburn False Tax Return Preparer Sentenced

ALBANY: Charles E. Peeler, United States Attorney for the Middle District of Georgia, announces the sentencing of Markeith L. Smith, age 36, of Ashburn, GA, on July 25, 2018, in Albany by the Honorable Leslie J. Abrams, United States District Judge for the Middle District of Georgia.  Mr. Smith previously pled guilty to wire fraud based on filing false tax returns with the Internal Revenue Service.  Mr. Smith was sentenced to a term of imprisonment of 24 months.  He was also ordered to pay restitution to the Internal Revenue Service in the amount of $518,145.  

According to Mr. Smith’s plea agreement, law enforcement agents executed a search warrant at his residence and recovered identifying information for approximately 121 people and approximately 40 TurboTax or GreenDot cards in the names of people who did not reside at Mr. Smith’s address.  IRS officials analyzed the identifying information and determined that approximately 352 false tax returns had been filed using that information, claiming refunds totaling over one million dollars, of which actual refunds were issued totaling $518,145.  Mr. Smith’s email user ID was used to file many of those returns.  All people interviewed by IRS investigators whose personal identifying information was found at Mr. Smith’s house stated that they were victims of identity theft, the returns filed in their names were fraudulent, they had received no refunds from those returns, and they had not authorized Mr. Smith to file returns on their behalf. 

“Protecting taxpayer money and protecting innocent Americans from identity theft are top priorities of the United States Attorney’s Office,” said United States Attorney Charles E. Peeler.  “I would like to thank the Criminal Investigation Division of the Internal Revenue Service and the Turner County Sheriff’s Office for bringing this defendant to justice.”

“This sentencing should show that when you steal someone’s identity and use it unlawfully, you will be sentenced to at least 2 years in prison,” said Thomas J. Holloman, Special Agent in Charge, IRS-Criminal Investigation. “IRS Special Agents will continue to investigate criminals who commit identity theft through the preparation of tax returns that generate tax refunds with the full support of our partners at the United States Attorney’s Office.”

The case was investigated by the Criminal Investigation Division of the Internal Revenue Service and the Turner County Sheriff’s Office, and was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney K. Alan Dasher. 

Questions concerning this case should be directed to Pamela Lightsey, Public Information Officer, United States Attorney’s Office, at (478) 621-2603.

Updated July 31, 2018