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Press Release

Pittsburg Resident Pleads Guilty To Stolen Identity Tax Fraud

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Northern District of California
Defendant Used Information Stolen from Antioch Tax Business Client Files

OAKLAND – Michael Johnson pleaded guilty to conspiracy to file false claims and filing false claims, announced Acting United States Attorney Brian J. Stretch and Internal Revenue Service, Criminal Investigation, Special Agent in Charge Michael T. Batdorf. 

In a plea agreement filed late yesterday, Johnson admitted that he, or his co-conspirators, used client files stolen from an Antioch, Calif. tax preparation service to file false tax returns.  According to the plea agreement, Johnson acknowledged that he devised a scheme to file false federal income tax returns that contained materially false representations including fake income and fraudulently-claimed tax refunds of at least $375,105.  In addition, Johnson admitted that he and his co-conspirators requested that the fraudulent tax refunds be loaded onto prepaid debit cards and sent to the addresses listed on the tax returns. 

Johnson was indicted on March 26, 2015.  He was charged with conspiracy to file false claims, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 286; and five counts each of filing false claims, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 287; theft of public money, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 641; effecting fraudulent transactions with access device, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1029(a)(5); wire fraud, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1343; and aggravated identity theft, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1028A.  Under the plea agreement, Johnson pleaded guilty to the conspiracy charge and three counts of filing false claims.  Sentencing currently is scheduled for August 22, 2016, before the Honorable Haywood S. Gilliam, U.S. District Judge.    

Johnson faces a maximum sentence of ten years in prison and a $250,000 fine for the conspiracy charge.  Johnson also faces and a maximum sentence of five years in prison and a $250,000 fine for each of the three counts of filing false claims.  Additional terms of supervised release and other fines may apply.  However, any sentence following this conviction will be imposed by the court only after consideration of the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and the federal statute governing the imposition of a sentence, 18 U.S.C. § 3553. 

Assistant U.S. Attorneys Thomas Newman and Jose Olivera are prosecuting the case.  The prosecution is the result of an investigation by the Internal Revenue Service, Criminal Investigation.

Updated April 19, 2017

Identity Theft