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Justice News

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

Friday, July 10, 2015

Another Indicted For Role In Identity Theft And Tax Fraud Scheme

BATON ROUGE, LA – United States Attorney Walt Green announced another indictment in connection with a continuing effort to combat stolen identity refund fraud and other tax fraud schemes by the United States Attorney’s Office for the Middle District of Louisiana and the Baton Rouge Office of the Internal Revenue Service, Criminal Investigations.

In the most recent case, CAMERON BUTLER, age 33, of Baton Rouge, Louisiana, was indicted this week on six counts of receiving stolen government funds, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 641.  The indictment alleges that BUTLER obtained more than $100,000 in federal tax refunds, via electronic deposits to bank accounts he controlled, knowing that the refunds belonged to other taxpayers and that he was not entitled to the funds.  If convicted, the defendant faces a significant term of imprisonment, fines, restitution, and the forfeiture of the proceeds from the alleged scheme.

This indictment follows the recent convictions of TA’SHA THOMAS, age 26, of Donaldsonville, Louisiana, and SHONDA V. JOHNSON, age 42, of Baton Rouge, Louisiana, both of whom have been convicted for their roles in an extensive stolen identity refund fraud scheme.  On June 22, 2015, THOMAS pled guilty to access device fraud and aggravated identity theft.  As THOMAS admitted, through her work at the Ascension Parish Health Unit, she gained access to personal identifying information of individuals in a database and sold the information to Mona Hill, who in turn used the information to file fraudulent federal tax returns, ultimately receiving more than $400,000 based on such returns.  THOMAS admitted that, between January and August of 2012, she sold more than 400 access devices to Mona Hill in exchange for between $8,000 and $9,000.

Meanwhile, on July 1, 2015, JOHNSON pled guilty to three counts of receipt of stolen government property.  As JOHNSON admitted, after Hill filed the fraudulent federal tax returns mentioned above, JOHNSON obtained several of the tax refunds, knowing that the refunds belonged to other taxpayers and that she was not entitled to the funds.

Mona Hill has been separately prosecuted and convicted by this office.  Hill was sentenced to serve sixty-five months in federal prison and pay $491,268.18 in restitution to the IRS.  THOMAS and JOHNSON are awaiting sentencing.

U.S. Attorney Green stated:  “Our office will continue to dedicate ourselves to working with IRS-CI and our other partners to unravel complex fraud schemes involving identity theft and tax refunds.  Such schemes prey on honest taxpayers and must be stopped.  I greatly appreciate the dedicated efforts of the agents and prosecutors handling these important cases.”

“We will continue to work aggressively with the United States Attorney's Office to protect innocent taxpayers and preserve the integrity of our tax system” said Jerome R. McDuffie, Special Agent-in-Charge, IRS Criminal Investigation.  “We will vigorously pursue fraudulent refund claims.  Protecting taxpayers’ money and personal information will remain one of our core missions.”

This ongoing investigation is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Jessica M.P. Thornhill.

NOTE:  An indictment is an accusation by the Grand Jury.  A defendant is presumed innocent until and unless adjudicated guilty at trial or through a guilty plea.

Updated July 10, 2015