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OAKLAND – Denise LaShawn Reed, also known as Brooke Nicholson, Lauren Roberts, Denise Berry, Savana Jones, and Neyce Roberts, pleaded guilty to a charge related to a false tax refund scheme, United States Attorney Melinda Haag and Internal Revenue Service-Criminal Investigation Special Agent in Charge José M. Martinez announced.
According to the plea agreement, from January 2009 through February 2010, Reed, 45, of Pleasanton, California, filed 14 false and fraudulent federal income tax returns with the IRS. These claims were all filed as Forms 1040, U.S. Individual Income Tax Returns. The total amount of the false claims was $94,700. Reed knowingly prepared and electronically filed the returns with the IRS. The claims listed on the returns were all fictitious, with the exception of the individual’s identities. As part of the scheme, some of the returns reported that the taxpayer earned income as part of a business that they operated when Reed knew the taxpayer did not own or operate a business. The fourteen false tax returns fraudulently reported that a refund was due. Reed admitted to receiving the tax refunds for 13 of the false claims.
Reed was charged on December 18, 2012, with 14 counts of filing false claims. She pleaded guilty to one count.
The maximum penalty for filing a false claim, in violation of Title 18, United States 287, is five years in prison and a fine of $250,000. However, any sentence following conviction would be imposed by the court after consideration of the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and the federal statute governing the imposition of a sentence, 18 U.S.C. § 3553.
In response to these types of cases, the Justice Department’s Tax Division issued a new directive to further the efforts of the Tax Division and help U.S. Attorneys’ Offices respond quickly and effectively to the challenges in stolen identity refund fraud (SIRF) cases. To further this goal, Tax Division Directive 144, which took effect on Oct. 1, 2012, was issued to streamline the process for prosecuting these offenses.
Cynthia Stier is the Assistant United States Attorney who is prosecuting the case. The prosecution is the result of an investigation by the Internal Revenue Service, Criminal Investigation.