Six Tax Return Preparers Plead Guilty to Filing False Tax Returns with the IRS Using Stolen Identities
Scheme claimed more than $6.6 million in fraudulent tax refunds
Six additional tax return preparers pled guilty to filing false tax returns with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) in a scheme that claimed more than $6,663,976 in fraudulent tax refunds.
Wifredo A. Ferrer, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Florida, Kelly R. Jackson, Special Agent in Charge, Internal Revenue Service, Criminal Investigation (IRS-CI), Robert C. Hutchinson, Acting Special Agent in Charge, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations (ICE-HSI), and Raymond D. Moss, Acting Inspector in Charge, U.S. Postal Inspection Service (USPIS), Miami Division, made the announcement.
Natalie Mitchell, 42, Artrice Reid, a/k/a Artrice Nelson, 40, Tomeka Anderson, a/k/a Tomeka Owens, 36, Tiffany Gaines, a/k/a Tiffany Morris, 38, Artravette Thomas, a/k/a Artravette Wilson, 41, and Danny Horne, 30, each pled guilty to one count of conspiracy to defraud the government with respect to claims, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 286, one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 1349, and one count of aggravated identity theft, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 1028A(1).
On December 15, 2015, Tameka Walker, 38, Celia Cromer, 43, and Maritynque Cromer, 25 previously pled guilty and were sentenced to 78 months, 50 months, and 36 months in prison, respectively, followed by three years of supervised release, and were all ordered to pay joint and several restitution in the amount of $796,535. On September 29, 2015, Marlin Mejia, 29, was sentenced to 21 months in prison, followed by three years of supervised release, and was ordered to pay restitution in the amount of $17,428.
Trial is scheduled to begin on June 13, 2016 for Paganini Fleurantin, a/k/a Hu’Ra Al’Dey, 28.
According to court documents, from September 2010 through May 22, 2013, the defendants conspired to defraud the IRS by filing fraudulent tax returns claiming fraudulent tax refunds. Defendant Walker owned and operated Family Tree Taxes, Inc., a tax preparation business in Miami Gardens. Walker purchased stolen personal identification information (PII) from various sources, including defendant Mejia, to file fraudulent tax returns. Mejia worked as a radiology transporter at a hospital and stole documents (face sheets) containing patients’ PII (including names, dates of birth, and Social Security numbers) from patient files at the hospital. Mejia knew the PII belonged to real people who did not authorize him to possess their personal information. Mejia sold the face sheets to Walker knowing that Walker would use the stolen PII to file fraudulent tax returns.
Defendants Mitchell, Reid, Anderson, Gaines, Thomas, Horne, Fleurantin, Celia Cromer and Maritynque Cromer were employed by Walker as tax preparers at Family Tree Taxes. The employees filed tax returns using stolen identities to claim fraudulent tax refunds, and also filed tax returns claiming fraudulent overinflated tax refunds. Specifically, the stolen PII of 95 hospital patients was used by the employees to claim over $76,757 in fraudulent tax refunds. And in 2012, Mejia authorized Walker to file a tax return for him claiming a fraudulent overinflated tax refund of $3,452.
Gaines is scheduled to be sentenced on July 20, 2016. Thomas, Mitchell, Anderson and Reid are scheduled to be sentenced on July 22, 2016. Horne is scheduled to be sentenced on August 8, 2016.
At sentencing, the defendants each face a maximum of ten years imprisonment for the conspiracy to defraud the government charge, a maximum of twenty years imprisonment for the conspiracy to commit wire fraud charge, and a mandatory term of two years’ imprisonment, consecutive to any other prison term, for the aggravated identity theft charge.
Mr. Ferrer commended the investigative efforts of IRS-CI, ICE-HSI, and USPIS. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Vanessa Snyder.