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Justice News

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

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Monday, June 15, 2015

Oakland Bus Driver Sentenced to Prison In Tax Fraud Scheme

OAKLAND – Akysha Rockwell was sentenced on June 12, 2015, to 18 months in prison and ordered to pay restitution of $285,034 for her role in a false tax refund scheme, announced U.S. Attorney Melinda Haag and Internal Revenue Service, Criminal Investigation, Special Agent in Charge José M. Martinez.

Rockwell, 39, of Oakland, pleaded guilty on January 16, 2015, to conspiracy to file false claims and one count of filing false claims,  in violation of a 18 U.S.C § 286 and 287.   In pleading guilty, Rockwell admitted that, during late 2011 and early 2012, Rockwell’s boyfriend at the time taught her how to prepare and electronically file fraudulent income tax returns, targeting people at their church and drug-rehabilitation clinics with the promise of an “Obama Stimulus,” a non-existent government program fabricated to attract clients.

As part of their scheme, Rockwell and her former boyfriend prepared tax returns that claimed false income and false occupations, regardless of the information that was provided to them by their clients.  Rockwell’s former boyfriend acquired an identification information form (ID-Doc), to obtain the means of identification of actual persons to prepare and electronically file false federal individual income tax returns, claiming fraudulent tax credits and fraudulent tax refunds.  Together, Rockwell and her former boyfriend prepared 116 tax returns in 2012.  All the tax returns fraudulently claimed one of the following sources of “Household Employee” income: babysitter, caretaker, cleaning person, domestic worker, housekeeper, maid, and yard-worker.  In addition, even though a majority of the clients were unemployed or disabled with no income, Rockwell filed income tax returns reporting false earned income and false refundable education credits. Rockwell and her former boyfriend received at least $226,903 by filing false and fraudulent tax refund claims.

Rockwell received a portion of the false tax refunds and spent it on personal items such as clothing, hotels, rental cars and illegal drugs.

After ending their relationship, Rockwell continued to file numerous false tax returns from her residence in Oakland.  She used the same fake “Obama Stimulus” program to attract victims.  She obtained at least $58,131 by filing these false and fraudulent tax refund claims.

This sentenced was handed down by The Honorable Jon Tigar, U.S. District Court Judge.  Judge Tigar also sentenced Rockwell to a three year period of supervised release.  The defendant will begin serving the sentence on September 8, 2015.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Colin Sampson is prosecuting the case. The prosecution is the result of an investigation by the Internal Revenue Service, Criminal Investigation.

Updated June 15, 2015