Travelling minister and Georgia man indicted for their roles in $4.8 million tax fraud conspiracy
An 11-count criminal indictment was filed charging a travelling minister from Arkansas and a Georgia man for their roles in a $4.8. million tax refund scam, said Steven M. Dettelbach, U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Ohio, and Kathy A. Enstrom, Special Agent in Charge, IRS Criminal Investigation, Cincinnati Field Office.
Allen D. Miles, 57, of Little Rock, Arkansas, and Ve Sayavong, 37, of Jonesboro, Georgia, were each charged with one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud and 10 counts of wire fraud.
The indictment alleges that Miles and Sayavong, acting together with Zinara Highsmith -- who has previously pleaded guilty for her role in the conspiracy -- engaged in a false tax refund scheme in which approximately 2,750 false income tax returns were filed, netting false income tax refunds of approximately $4.8 million.
Miles, the travelling minister, obtained personal identification information from congregants by telling them that he could help them obtain money from an alleged government stimulus fund program. Miles did not tell congregants that income tax returns were going to be filed on their behalf. After he obtained the information, Miles forwarded it to Highsmith, and then Highsmith, Sayavong and others created the false income tax returns that generated refunds based on certain credits for which the taxpayers did not qualify, like the American Opportunity Credit, Making Work Pay Credit, and Earned Income Credit, according to the indictment.
For each refund, Miles collected a $125 commission and Highsmith received $275, from which she paid Sayavong and others; the taxpayers received the balance. Miles received approximately $240,000 and Sayavong received $178,000 for their efforts in the refund scam, which operated between March and July 2011, according to the indictment.
"These defendants were part of a scheme in which they took advantage of their victims' faith and tax credits designed to help the least among us," Dettelbach said.
“This investigation uncovered a fraudulent scheme that attempted to generate millions of dollars,” Enstrom said. “These defendants used deceit and fraud to line their pockets with stolen federal tax refunds and they will be held accountable for their actions.”
If convicted, the defendant’s sentence will be determined by the court after review of the factors unique to this case, including the defendant’s prior criminal record, the defendant’s role in the offense and the characteristics of the criminal conduct. In all cases, the sentence will not exceed the statutory maximum and in most cases it will be less than the maximum.
This case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Michael L. Collyer, following an investigation by the Internal Revenue Service – Criminal Investigations.
An indictment is only a charge and is not evidence of guilt. A defendant is entitled to a fair trial in which it will be the government’s burden to prove the defendant guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.