Skip to main content
Press Release

Inmate At Stillwater Correctional Facility Indicted For Conspiring To Steal $180,000 From Irs

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, District of Minnesota

United States Attorney Andrew M. Luger today announced the indictment of ELISEO ORTIZ, 49, STACEY JEAN BERGHAMMER, 33, and SHANNON LEE TROLLEN, 37, for conspiring to file false state and federal tax returns and claim tax refunds. The three defendants are charged with conspiracy to file false claims for income tax refunds. ORTIZ and BERGHAMMER are also charged with filing false claims for income tax refunds, and ORTIZ is additionally charged with procuring a false tax return.

“Eliseo Ortiz is charged with conspiring to file fraudulent tax returns from behind bars,” said U.S. Attorney Luger. “Conspiring with associates on the outside is a nefarious way to steal from the public. I am grateful to the investigators at IRS Criminal Investigation for pursuing cases like these on behalf of honest taxpayers.”

“The defendants who allegedly perpetrated this tax fraud scheme systematically defrauded the government and the taxpaying public,” said Special Agent in Charge Shea Jones, of the St. Paul Field Office IRS Criminal Investigation. “IRS Criminal Investigation will continue to vigorously pursue those who unjustly enrich themselves by preparing false tax returns in order to obtain refunds.”

According to the indictment and documents filed in court, between 2008 and at least April 28, 2010, ORTIZ was incarcerated at Stillwater Correctional Facility, where he recruited other inmates to provide names and social security numbers for the defendants to use in preparing and filing the false tax returns. These “recruits” were also asked to provide addresses for unincarcerated trusted associates who could transfer money from tax refunds to the defendants and other co-conspirators. ORTIZ provided the information he obtained from the recruits to BERGHAMMER or TROLLEN, who would then complete and file the false tax returns that fraudulently claimed refunds to which the recruits were not entitled.

According to the indictment and documents filed in court, the defendants and other co- conspirators filed tax returns claiming false wages, withholdings, and other information. Many of the fraudulent tax returns falsely claimed that the recruits were entitled to tax credits such as the earned income tax credit, the making work pay credit, and the additional child tax credit. In reality, the recruits had not earned the income that was reported, they had not had any income tax withholdings, they were not eligible for the tax credits listed, and they were not entitled to refunds claimed.

According to the indictment and documents filed in court, the defendants and other co- conspirators obtained payments for their roles in the scheme in various ways. If an income tax refund for a filing co-conspirator was issued by check, payments were sometimes obtained by having the check sent to the address of a trusted associate who was not in prison, cashing the check, and then splitting the money between the co-conspirator, the defendants, and others. If a refund was obtained through a direct deposit or into a debit card, payments to the co-conspirators and defendants were sometimes made by using money orders and wire transfers.

This case is the result of an investigation conducted by the Internal Revenue Service – Criminal Investigation Division.

This case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Michael L. Cheever.

Defendant Information:

Bartlett, Ill.

• Conspiracy to file false claims, 1 count
• False Claims, 3 counts
• Procuring a False Tax Return, 1 count

Red Wing, Minn.

• Conspiracy to file false claims, 1 count
• False Claims, 3 counts

Stockholm, Wisc.

• Conspiracy to file false claims, 1 count

The charges are merely accusations, and the defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.



Updated April 30, 2015