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Press Release

Huntsville Woman Pleads Guilty to Stealing $107,707 in Government Funds Through Fraudulent Tax Returns

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

BIRMINGHAM – A Huntsville woman pleaded guilty today in federal court to stealing more than $107,000 from the government by filing fraudulent income tax returns, announced U.S. Attorney Jay E. Town and Internal Revenue Service, Criminal Investigation, Special Agent in Charge Thomas J. Holloman.

JOAN MARIE CHANDLER, 42, also known as Joan Marie Robinson, pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge R. David Proctor to one count of theft of government funds. The judge scheduled her sentencing April 10.

Today’s guilty plea by Ms. Chandler again emphasizes that the U.S. Attorney’s Office and IRS-Criminal Investigation will continue to aggressively pursue those who attempt to defraud America’s tax system,” Town said. “Those who threaten the integrity of the tax system, and cheat the public treasury, will pay their fair share, one way or another.”

 “Stealing from the government is not a way to earn a living,” Holloman said. “Refund fraud results in major loss of revenue to the United States Government. Every taxpaying citizen is affected when tax dollars are stolen. IRS Criminal Investigation will continue our efforts to investigate similar schemes and recover the stolen funds.”

According to Chandler’s plea agreement, the U.S. Treasury deposited numerous electronic refund payments into accounts held by Chandler at three banks in the Huntsville area between February 2015 and April 2015.

An investigation revealed two Treasury Refund Electronic Transfer of Funds deposited into Chandler’s account at Branch Banking and Trust, six electronic refund deposits into her account at PNC Bank, and two electronic refund deposits into her account at Wells Fargo Bank, according to the plea agreement.

The 10 refund transfers totaled $107,707. PNC seized $38,608 from Chandler’s account and returned that money to the U.S. Treasury, according to the plea agreement.

The maximum penalty for theft of government funds is 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.

IRS-CI investigated the case, which Assistant U.S. Attorney David Estes is prosecuting

Updated December 20, 2017