Tax Preparer Indicted For Tax Fraud And Identity Theft Scheme Involving Over 200 Fraudulent Returns Seeking Over $500,000
BATON ROUGE, LA - United States Attorney Walt Green announced today that a federal grand jury has returned an indictment against TAMEKIA CECILIA HARTON, age 34, of Baton Rouge, Louisiana. The indictment charges the defendant with false claims against the government, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 287, theft of government funds, Title 18, United States Code, Section 641, misuse of a social security number, in violation of Title 42, United States Code, Section 408(a)(8), forged endorsement on Treasury checks, Title 18, United States Code, Section 510(a)(1), and aggravated identity theft, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 1028A(a)(1). The indictment also includes a forfeiture allegation which requires the defendant to forfeit the proceeds of his fraud if convicted. If convicted, the defendant faces a significant prison sentence, fine, and restitution order, as well as forfeiture.
The indictment alleges that the defendant filed 214 false and fraudulent tax returns between January 2011 and August 2012. The bogus tax returns falsely represented that individual taxpayers had worked for various companies, earned income, had income taxes withheld from their earnings, and were entitled to income tax refunds. The defendant allegedly misused the names and social security numbers of hundreds of taxpayers in order to carry out her scheme. The 214 tax returns requested refunds of approximately $505,709, of which about $346,321 was actually refunded and released. The proceeds of the fraud were allegedly used for the defendant’s personal enrichment.
U.S. Attorney Green stated: “My office will continue to devote the resources necessary to pursue fraudsters engaged in tax fraud and identity theft, and we look forward to continuing to work with our partners at IRS-CI and other agencies in the fight against such conduct.”
“We are pleased with the indictment returned today against Ms. Harton. The IRS will aggressively pursue individuals who use stolen Social Security numbers to file false tax returns,” said Jerome R. McDuffie, Acting Special Agent in Charge, IRS Criminal Investigation. “This case should serve as a strong warning to those who are considering similar conduct. Law enforcement will relentlessly pursue those who steal the identities of unsuspecting individuals; particularly those who are unable to protect themselves.”
This matter is being handled by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Middle District of Louisiana and was investigated by the Internal Revenue Service-Criminal Investigations. It is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Rene I. Salomon.
NOTE: An indictment is an accusation by the Grand Jury. The defendant is presumed innocent until and unless adjudicated guilty at trial or through a guilty plea.