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Justice News

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

Thursday, July 12, 2018

Three Sentenced For Tax Fraud And Identity Theft

VALDOSTA: Charles E. Peeler, United States Attorney for the Middle District of Georgia, announces that Saferia Johnson, age 34, formerly of Valdosta, Georgia; Leo McGill, age 51, of Valdosta, Georgia; and Detrone Middleton, age 38, of Douglas, Georgia, were sentenced on July 11, 2018, by the Honorable Hugh Lawson, Senior United States District Judge for aggravated identity theft and for involvement in a fraudulent income tax fraud scheme seeking more than $2 million in refunds. Ms. Johnson and Mr. McGill were each sentenced to serve 70 months in federal prison and Mr. Middleton was sentenced to serve 64 months in federal prison.  The defendants were also sentenced to jointly pay the Internal Revenue Service $1,498,776 in restitution.  There is no parole in the federal system.

In 2012, the Internal Revenue Service-Criminal Investigations (IRS-CI) began an investigation after receiving information that a number of accounts controlled by the three co-defendants and others had received a large number of federal tax refund deposits issued in the name of people other than the owners of the bank accounts. IRS-CI identified individuals whose identities had been used on the returns in question and determined that Ms. Johnson, Mr. McGill and Mr. Middleton were involved in a scheme where fraudulent federal incomes tax returns were filed for tax years 2010 and 2011 and refunds deposited into 45 separate bank accounts.

The defendants admitted to filing approximately 984 fraudulent returns using stolen identities (many being those of minors) for tax years 2010 and 2011. The fraudulent returns, which were filed without the knowledge or permission of the individuals whose identities had been stolen, sought total refunds of $2,082,275.00.  Refunds totaling $1,498,776.00, the restitution amount ordered, were actually paid.  Both Mr. McGill, and Mr. Middleton admitted that those amounts were received by them or their associates.

“The sentences imposed on these three defendants bear witness to the fact that easy money means hard time in the federal criminal justice system.  Stealing from the government is stealing from the American people, and it is made all the more despicable by using the identities of children to do it,” said United States Attorney Peeler.

This case was investigated by the Internal Revenue Service–Criminal Investigations. Assistant United States Attorney Robert D. McCullers is prosecuting the case for the United States.

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

Identity Theft
Updated July 16, 2018