BATON ROUGE RESIDENT SENTENCED FOR STEALING FEDERAL DOLLARS IN FRAUDULENT TAX REFUND SCHEME
BATON ROUGE, LA –United States Attorney Walt Green announced that on Wednesday, August 31, 2016, LAGUARDIA COSTON, age 29, of Baton Rouge, Louisiana, was sentenced by Senior U.S. District Judge James J. Brady to theft of government funds, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 641. During a December 2015 guilty plea hearing, COSTON admitted to preparing and filing numerous fraudulent tax returns using stolen personal identifiers, such as names and social security numbers, of 73 separate victims, and, in doing so, stole $102,000 in tax refunds from the U.S. Treasury.
After hearing evidence during the sentencing hearing, Judge Brady sentenced COSTON to a term of imprisonment of 33 months, a term of supervision after release from prison of 3 years, forfeiture of $102,000, and restitution to the U.S. Treasury of $102,000. After serving the adjudged term of imprisonment, COSTON will be supervised by the U.S. Probation Office to ensure that she abides by certain conditions imposed by Judge Brady designed to ensure that she embarks on a crime-free path.
U.S. Attorney Green stated: “This case exemplifies the importance of our office working in concert with the Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigation Division (IRS-CI) to ensure that individuals who use the stolen identities of others and defraud the United States face the justice they deserve. We look forward to continuing our work with IRS-CI and other investigative agencies in the fight to deter both ongoing criminal conduct along with similar criminal conduct considered by others.”
Special Agent-in-Charge of Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigation, Jerome R. McDuffie, stated: “This sentence is a stern reminder that participation in refund fraud schemes does not pay and those who do so will be held accountable. Ms. Coston used 73 stolen identities to file false tax returns and obtain refunds for personal gain. Identity theft is an on-going problem and IRS-CI will continue to vigorously investigate those engaged in these illegal activities, and work with the United States Attorney's Office to aggressively protect innocent taxpayers and preserve the integrity of our tax system.”
This matter has been investigated by the Internal Revenue Service’s Criminal Investigation Division and is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Paul L. Pugliese.