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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Northern District of California

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Monday, January 12, 2015

Antioch Resident Sentenced To 30-Months In Custody For Aggravated Identity Theft In Tax Fraud Scheme

OAKLAND – Starkisha Benson was sentenced to 30 months in prison on Friday, Jan. 9, 2015, for conspiring to file false claims and aggravated identity theft, United States Attorney Melinda Haag and IRS-CI Internal Revenue Service – Criminal Investigation Division Special Agent in Charge José M. Martinez, announced.

Benson pleaded guilty on Oct. 3, 2014. According to her plea agreement, Benson filed false tax returns from her residence and from other locations along with her co-conspirators. Bensons admitted that she filed these false tax returns using stolen identities. Benson specifically acknowledged that she stole one person’s identity and used that information to file false 2009 and 2010 tax returns. Benson also misused the identity of that same person’s minor child. Benson further acknowledged embezzling fraudulent tax refunds from the Internal Revenue Service and keeping the money for her own use. In addition to the prison sentence, Benson was ordered to pay restitution in the amount of $98,927.

The charges against Benson were the result of an investigation initiated by the Berkeley Police Department.  On April 7, 2011, during a consent search of a vehicle, the Berkeley Police Department uncovered a notebook with co-defendant Khyber Law’s name on the cover. The notebook contained the identity profiles of eleven people including their names, dates of birth, bank account numbers, bank routing numbers, email addresses, and passwords. Eight of these eleven identity profiles were used to file false federal income tax returns.

Benson, 36, of Antioch, was charged with Khyber Law and Jessika Green in a twenty-four count superseding indictment on Dec. 17, 2013. The defendants were all charged with wire fraud, conspiracy to file false claims, filing false claims, effecting fraudulent transactions with an access device, theft of public money, and aggravated identity theft. Law and Green each pleaded guilty to conspiracy to file false claims.  Law, 26, of Antioch is scheduled to be sentenced on Jan. 30, 2015. Green, 33, also of Antioch, is scheduled to be sentenced on Feb. 20, 2015.

The sentence was handed down by the Honorable Jon S. Tigar, United States District Court Judge. Judge Tigar also sentenced the defendant to a three year period of supervised release and restitution. The defendant will begin serving the sentence on March 6, 2015.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Thomas Newman and Special Assistant U.S. Attorney Kate Patchen and are prosecuting the case. The prosecution is the result of an investigation by the Berkeley Police Department and the IRS, Criminal Investigation Division.

Updated September 1, 2015