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Press Release

Prisoners In Faribault Correctional Facility Filed More Than $400,000 In Fraudulent Tax Returns From Prison

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

United States Attorney Luger announced an indictment unsealed on Thursday, August 14, 2014, after the arrest of two defendants charged in a conspiracy to file fraudulent tax returns while incarcerated in state prison. A federal grand jury on August 12, 2014, returned a 21-count indictment charging TONY TERRELL ROBINSON, 30, and TANKA JAMES TETZLAFF, 39, with conspiring to defraud the United States and filing and making false claims against the government.

According to the indictment, from October 2009 through approximately September 2010, ROBINSON and TETZLAFF, who were incarcerated by the state of Minnesota in the Faribault Correctional Facility, conspired to prepare and file false federal income tax returns and fraudulently claim tax refunds. As part of their scheme, the defendants recruited other state prisoners to file false tax returns using their names and social security numbers. The defendants and other co-conspirators filed the tax returns using false wage and federal income tax withholding information.

According to the charges, tax refunds were paid by check, deposited directly into bank accounts, or deposited onto debit cards. Co-conspirators who were not in prison, including CARMEN ALLEN, VANESSA WALBERG, and DEEANNA CRIST, received refund checks at addresses they controlled, which were then cashed using a Power of Attorney signed by the filing co-conspirators. Refunds also were deposited directly into bank accounts controlled by the co-conspirators. As a result of the conspiracy, over $400,000 of false claims were made to the Internal Revenue Service.

ALLEN pleaded guilty to a conspiracy charge in March 2014 and was sentenced on August 7, 2014. Both, WALBERG and CRIST pleaded guilty to a conspiracy charge in May 2014 and are awaiting sentencing.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Michael Cheever is handling the prosecution.

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

For more information about how to protect yourself from identity theft, visit

The IRS-Criminal Investigations urges citizens to review the Taxpayer Guide to Identity Theft, which can be found at

Defendant Information:

Bayport, MN


• Conspiracy to Defraud the United States, 1 count
• False Claims against the United States, 10 counts

Duluth, MN


• Conspiracy to Defraud the United States, 1 count
• False Claims against the United States, 10 counts

The charges contained in an indictment are mere allegations and defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.



Updated April 30, 2015