You are here

Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Southern District of Mississippi

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Meridian Residents Plead Guilty to Stolen Identity Refund Fraud


Jackson, Miss - Joyce Knight, 38, and Daniel Kelley, 41, both of Meridian, pled guilty on Monday, July 13, 2015 to filing false claims for payment against the United States for their roles in using stolen identities to file false federal income tax returns, announced U.S. Attorney Gregory K. Davis and IRS Criminal Investigation Special Agent in Charge Jerome R. McDuffie.

According to the evidence produced at the plea hearing, Kelley stole the names, social security numbers and dates of birth of inmates from 2009 through 2011 at the Greene County Correctional Facility and Central Mississippi Correctional Facility, while he was incarcerated at each prison. Kelley wrote down the stolen information in books he kept in his cell, including inside his Bible, and he would pass the information to Knight via cell phone which he had access to in prison. During the course of the scheme, 27 fraudulent federal income tax returns were filed, which resulted in the United States Treasury paying out $16,000 in bogus tax returns.

"Those who file false tax refund claims using stolen identities threaten the integrity of our federal income tax system and pose a real danger to the security of the individuals whose identities are stolen," said U.S. Attorney Gregory K. Davis. "Citizens of this district should know we are dedicated to prosecuting individuals like these and to deterring similar crimes."

Special Agent in Charge of IRS Criminal Investigation Jerome R. McDuffie stated: "Joyce Knight and Daniel Kelley have accepted responsibility for their actions, and we are pleased that they will now be held accountable for their wrongdoings. The sentencing in this matter now rests with the court. The Special Agents of IRS Criminal Investigation will continue to assist the United States Attorney’s Office and work toward a favorable conclusion which would ensure that this case serves as a deterrent to other unscrupulous individuals who would attempt to victimize the taxpaying citizens of this country."

Knight and Kelley will be sentenced on September 24, 2015 at 9:30 and 10:00 am respectively, by United States District Court Judge Henry T. Wingate. They each face a maximum penalty of up to five years in prison, a $250,000 fine, and restitution in the amount of $16,000. Kelley, who also pled guilty to aggravated identity theft, will also receive a mandatory sentence of two years in prison that will run consecutive to the sentence imposed for his conviction for filing false claims.

This case was investigated by IRS Criminal Investigation and prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Scott Gilbert.

Updated July 15, 2015