Four Men Indicted For Using Stolen Information To File Over 1,000 False Tax Returns That Claimed Refunds
MINNEAPOLIS—Recently in federal court, four men were indicted for using stolen identification information to file tax returns that claimed false refunds. On May 21, 2013, Frantz Pierre, Ronnie Bussell, Christopher Torh, and Junior Tervil were charged with one count of conspiracy to defraud the United States. Pierre was also charged with one count of money laundering.
The indictment alleges that from July 2010 to May 2011, the defendants conspired with each other and others to defraud the Internal Revenue Service (“IRS”) by seeking tax refunds for which they were not entitled. Allegedly, the co-conspirators obtained the personal identifiers of other people and used that information, without those people’s knowledge, to create false 2009 and 2010 federal income tax returns that claimed refunds. In addition, the co-conspirators reportedly created false W-2 forms showing fabricated amounts of earnings and tax withholdings. The co-conspirators allegedly filed approximately 1,066 false tax returns, claiming approximately $6.9 million in fraudulent refunds.
The indictment also alleges that in order to receive the tax refunds, Pierre, Bussell, Torh, Tervil, and others created and established fictitious businesses in Minnesota that purportedly were involved in the preparation of income tax returns. The co-conspirators reportedly recruited others in Minnesota and elsewhere to do the same. Then, bank accounts were allegedly opened for each of the fake businesses, and the tax refunds were electronically deposited into those accounts. Finally, the Indictment alleges Pierre used some of the funds derived from this fraud scheme to purchase a residence in Parkland, Florida.
If convicted, the defendants face a potential maximum penalty of ten years in prison on the conspiracy count, and Pierre faces an additional potential maximum penalty of ten years on the money laundering count. Any sentence would be determined by a federal district court judge.
This case is the result of an investigation by the IRS-Criminal Investigation. It is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Karen B. Schommer.
An indictment is a determination by a grand jury that there is probable cause to believe that offenses have been committed by a defendant. A defendant, of course, is presumed innocent until he or she pleads guilty or is proven guilty at trial. Per U.S. Department of Justice policy, the U.S. Attorney’s Office is not allowed to provide the age and city of residence for defendants charged in criminal tax cases.