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Press Release

Pleasanton Woman Sentenced to 27 Months in Prison for Filing False Claim with the IRS

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Northern District of California

OAKLAND – Denise LaShawn Reed, also known as Brooke Nicholson, Lauren Roberts, Denise Berry, Savana Jones, and Neyce Roberts, was sentenced yesterday to 27 months for her role in a false tax refund scheme, announced United States Attorney Melinda Haag and Internal Revenue Service-Criminal Investigation Special Agent in Charge José M. Martinez.

Reed pleaded guilty on September 5, 2013. According to the plea agreement, from January 2009 through February 2010, Reed 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. The claims listed on the returns were all fictitious, with the exception of the taxpayers’ identity. As part of the scheme, some of the returns reported that the taxpayer earned income as part of a business they operated when Reed knew the taxpayer did not own or operate a business. The 14 false tax returns fraudulently reported a refund was due. Reed admitted to receiving tax refunds for 13 of the false claims.

According to court documents, Reed electronically filed tax returns using others’ identities to defraud the United States into paying money in fraudulent tax refunds. The refunds were deposited into bank accounts or debit cards controlled by Reed. Reed then used the funds to pay personal expenses.

Reed, 45, of Pleasanton, California was charged on December 18, 2012, with 14 counts of filing false claims. She pleaded guilty to one count.

The sentence was handed down by the Honorable Yvonne Rogers Gonzalez, U.S. District Court Judge. In addition to 27 months in prison, Judge Gonzalez sentenced the defendant to a 3-year period of supervised release. In an attempt to obtain a lenient sentence, Reed provided false information to the Court in the form of a forged letter on Stanford Hospital letterhead stating that she was being treated for breast cancer, which was not true. As a result, at sentencing Judge Gonzalez found that Reed obstructed justice and increased her sentence accordingly. The defendant is in custody serving her sentence.

Cynthia Stier is the Assistant United States Attorney who is prosecuting the. The prosecution is the result of an investigation by the Internal Revenue Service, Criminal Investigation.



Updated November 18, 2014