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Press Release

Opelousas couple pleads guilty to identity theft

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Western District of Louisiana

LAFAYETTE, La. – United States Attorney Stephanie A. Finley announced that an employee of an Opelousas tax preparation business and her boyfriend pleaded guilty Wednesday to stealing customers’ identities in order to pocket income tax refunds.

Frances Owens, 36, and Kevin White, 33, both of Washington, La., pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge Richard T. Haik to one count of identity theft. According to the guilty plea, Owens worked as a tax preparer at Dee’s Tax Service in Opelousas in 2013.  While working at Dee’s Tax Service, Owens prepared false 2012 individual tax returns for at least two people that had not authorized her to do so.  While preparing the false tax returns, Owens took steps to ensure that the victims’ tax refund checks were sent to Dee’s Tax Service instead of the victims’ residences.  Owens and her boyfriend, White, then took possession of the checks, forged the victims’ signatures and obtained false identification cards in the names of the victims to cash the checks.  Specifically, on April 10, 2013, Owens illegally used a false identification card with her picture on it to cash a $5,838 check, and on April 12, 2013, White used a false identification card with his picture on it to cash a $4,727 check.

The defendants face up to 15 years in prison, three years of supervised release, a $250,000 fine and restitution.

The IRS investigated the case.  Assistant U.S. Attorney David C. Joseph is prosecuting the case.

Updated December 3, 2015