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Justice News

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

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Three Indicted For Identity Theft and Tax Schemes Involving Nearly 300 Victims

BATON ROUGE, LA –United States Attorney Walt Green announced the filing of criminal charges against three (3) individuals accused of committing theft of government property, access device fraud, aggravated identity theft, and related crimes in the Baton Rouge area.  Collectively, these three individuals are alleged to have misused the names and social security numbers of nearly 300 different taxpayers and of fraudulently obtaining numerous federal income tax refunds.  The charges are the result of an initiative by the United States Attorney’s Office, the Internal Revenue Service’s Criminal Investigations Division, and the United States Department of Justice’s Tax Division to combat stolen identity refund fraud and other tax fraud schemes.

The following individuals have been charged:

JASON DEANDRE DAVIS, age 30, of Baton Rouge, Louisiana, was charged in an indictment with five counts of theft of government property, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Sections 641 and 2, five counts of receipt of stolen government property, also in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Sections 641 and 2, and one count of aggravated identity theft, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 1028A.  The indictment alleges that DAVIS obtained numerous federal tax refunds, either via electronic deposits to bank accounts DAVIS controlled or debit cards that had been pre-loaded with the refunds, knowing that the refunds belonged to other taxpayers and that he was not entitled to the funds.  According to the indictment, during and in relation to his fraudulent receipt of one of the refunds, DAVIS also knowingly possessed and used one of the taxpayer’s names and social security numbers.  The case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney René I. Salomon.

TASHA THOMAS, age 26, of Donaldsonville, Louisiana, was charged in an indictment with access device fraud, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 1029(a)(2), and aggravated identity theft, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 1028A.  The indictment alleges that from January 2012 through August 2012, THOMAS used and trafficked in the social security numbers assigned to more than two hundred and fifty (250) different taxpayers.  Then, in August 2013, the indictment alleges that THOMAS trafficked more than twenty (20) additional social security numbers assigned to other individuals.  The case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Jessica M.P. Thornhill.

Finally, SHONDA V. JOHNSON, age 42, of Baton Rouge, Louisiana, was charged in an indictment with three counts of receipt of stolen government property, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 641, and one count of aggravated identity theft, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 1028A.  The indictment alleges that JOHNSON obtained several federal tax refunds via paper checks and electronic deposits to a bank account that JOHNSON controlled, knowing that the refunds belonged to other taxpayers and that she was not entitled to the funds.  According to the indictment, during and in relation to her fraudulent receipt of one of the refunds, JOHNSON also knowingly possessed and used one of the taxpayer’s names and social security numbers.  The case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Jessica M.P. Thornhill.

If convicted of the charges returned by the federal grand jury today, each defendant faces a significant term of imprisonment, fines, restitution, and the forfeiture of the proceeds from these alleged schemes.  All three investigations are ongoing.

U.S. Attorney Green stated:  “This office will continue to aggressively pursue criminals who commit identity theft and use those stolen identities to defraud the United States and line their own pockets.  The filing of these three new cases is another significant step in that important effort.  Working with our federal, state, and local partners, our investigations of this type of crime in our district will continue.”

“Protecting taxpayer money and trust is an integral part of this agency's mission.  We will vigorously pursue fraudulent refund claims and those individuals who engage in identity theft,” stated Jerome R. McDuffie, Special Agent-in-Charge, IRS Criminal Investigation.  “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. The message to be taken from today’s indictments in Baton Rouge is simple.  Participation in refund fraud schemes does not pay and those who do will be prosecuted and be held accountable for their illegal activities.”

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 March 25, 2015