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Press Release

Last Defendants Sentenced In Massive Conspiracy To Commit Tax Fraud In Battle Creek

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

         GRAND RAPIDS, MICHIGAN — Acting U.S. Attorney Andrew Birge announced that Diallo Dotson, Charleeta Cork and Simone Watkins were sentenced in federal district court this week for conspiring to defraud the United States through the filing of false income tax returns to receive fraudulent federal income tax refunds. These sentencings mark the conclusion of the prosecution of 33 individuals engaged in a conspiracy with Derrick J. Gibson, of Battle Creek, Michigan, to file false federal income tax returns. The conspiracy operated from 2008 to 2016 and resulted in more than $22 million dollars of loss to the Internal Revenue Service.

          The ring-leader, Derrick J. Gibson, was sentenced on January 6, 2017, to the statutory maximum sentence of 10 years in prison and restitution of $16 million. This week, Diallo Dotson was sentenced to serve two years of probation including six weekends in jail and restitution of $76,476. Charleeta Cork was sentenced to a day in prison (time served), two years of supervised release including four weekends in jail and restitution of $41,075. Simone Watkins was sentenced to a day in prison (time served), two years of supervised release and restitution of $84,934.

          A multi-year joint investigation led by the Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigation, Veterans Affairs – Office of the Inspector General, United States Postal Inspection Service, the Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms, Department of Homeland Security, Battle Creek Police Department, Albion Police Department, Calhoun County Sheriff’s Department, and Michigan State Police resulted in the federal charges.

          "The sentencings in this case and the fact the perpetrators will have to pay back what they took illegally, shows that the government is serious when it comes to prosecuting those that want to use the tax system as their own personal bank account," said Special Agent in Charge Manny Muriel of IRS-Criminal Investigations. "This conspiracy involved 33 people, including three federal employees who stole from the American taxpayer through the filing of false tax returns in innocent people’s names. IRS Criminal Investigations and its law enforcement partners are dedicated to ferreting out these perpetrators and protecting the American public."

          This case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney B. Rene Shekmer.


Updated May 6, 2021