Spring Man Among Three Charged In Stolen Identity Refund Fraud Conspiracy
HOUSTON – Jason Maclaskey, 33, has been charged with conspiracy, theft of government funds and aggravated identity theft related to his participation in a scheme to use stolen identities to file fraudulent tax returns, United States Attorney Kenneth Magidson announced today.
The 23-count indictment, returned March 6, 2013, charges Maclaskey, of Spring, as well as Heather Dale, 23, of Grant, Ala., and Omar Butt, 29, of Brooklyn, N.Y. All are charged with one count of conspiracy and one count of theft of public money. Dale and Butt are charged with seven and two counts, respectively, of aggravated identity theft, while Maclaskey faces nine counts on that charge. Maclaskey was further indicted on one count of access device fraud as well as one count each of being a fugitive in possession of a weapon and possession of a stolen weapon.
The three defendants were also indicted in Nevada for a similar fraud scheme and are currently pending trial there as well.
Maclaskey will make his initial appearance at 2:00 p.m. today before U.S. Magistrate Judge Stephen Smith, at which time the government is expected to request he be detained pending further criminal proceedings in this case. Dale and Butt made appearances last week and were both permitted release upon posting bond.
According to the indictment, the defendants unlawfully obtained names, dates of birth and Social Security numbers from 371 taxpayers and filed false tax returns in their names in 2009. The defendants allegedly used this information to also set up fraudulent bank accounts at Inter National Bank and through NetSpend debit cards in the taxpayers’ names and then directed the tax refunds to these accounts. The indictment alleges they withdrew this money using the NetSpend debit card at ATMs and by making purchases at various retail stores. Through this conspiracy, the defendants claimed a total of more than $1.4 million in false tax refunds and succeeded in withdrawing approximately $300,000.
Additionally, the indictment alleges Maclaskey was in possession of 10 firearms, one of which was stolen, on Nov. 1, 2011. At the time these weapons were seized, Maclaskey was a fugitive.
If convicted of conspiracy, all face up to five years in prison and a maximum of 10 years for theft of public money. Both of those convictions also carry a possible $250,000 fine. Maclaskey faces 10 years and $250,000 fines on each of the access device fraud and weapons counts, if convicted. For the aggravated identity theft charges, each defendant faces a mandatory two-year-term as to each count, which must be served consecutively to each other and to the other sentences imposed.
The investigation that led to this indictment was conducted by agents from Internal Revenue Service – Criminal Investigation and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. Assistant United States Attorney Sharad S. Khandelwal is prosecuting the case.
An indictment is a formal accusation of criminal conduct, not evidence.
A defendant is presumed innocent unless convicted through due process of law.