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Justice News

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

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Friday, August 21, 2015

Pittsburg Resident Pleads Guilty In Tax Fraud Scheme

Filed $656,000 in False Tax Returns

SAN FRANCISCO- Ebony Standifer pleaded guilty to conspiracy to file false claims and aggravated identity theft for her role in a tax fraud scheme, announced United States Attorney Melinda Haag and Internal Revenue Service, Criminal Investigation, Acting Special Agent in Charge Thomas McMahon.

According to the plea agreement, Standifer, 28, of Pittsburg, Calif., admitted she conspired with others to file false federal income tax returns with the Internal Revenue Service from 2010 through 2012.  As part of the scheme, individuals with whom Standifer conspired provided her with names of people for whom to file false tax returns.  Standifer used those identities and filed returns without showing the documents to the people listed on them.  In addition to inserting the person’s name and Social Security number, Standifer made up figures for income and the amount of taxes that were withheld.  She then requested a tax refund based on these made-up figures.  Standifer filed the false returns electronically from various locations and kept notebooks that recorded information regarding the people whose identity she misappropriated.  The information she recorded included the victim's name, Social Security number, the amount of the false tax refund that she claimed in that person's name, and whether the false tax return was “accepted” or “rejected.”   Further, to carry out the scheme, Standifer requested that the IRS deposit the fraudulent tax refund onto pre-paid debit cards that she could access.  In total, during 2010-2012, Standifer filed or assisted in filing false tax returns in the aggregate amount of $656,000 for the 2009-2011 tax years. Of that amount, the IRS actually paid fraudulent claims in the amount of $193,602.

Standifer was indicted by a grand jury on October 28, 2014.  She was charged with one count of conspiracy to file false claims, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 286; five counts of wire fraud, in violation of 18 U.S.C § 1343; and three counts of aggravated identity theft, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1028A.  Under the plea agreement, Standifer pleaded guilty to conspiracy to file false claims and one count of aggravated identity theft.

Standifer is scheduled to be sentenced on January 6, 2016, by the Honorable Charles R. Breyer, United States District Judge. The maximum statutory penalty for conspiracy to file a false claim is ten years in prison and a fine of $250,000.  The maximum penalty for aggravated identity theft is a mandatory consecutive sentence of two years in prison and a fine of $250,000 plus restitution. However, any sentence following conviction would 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. Attorney Thomas Newman is prosecuting the case. The prosecution is the result of an investigation by the IRS, Criminal Investigation.

Updated August 21, 2015