Seven Springfield residents among 13 indicted for $340,000 in false tax claims
SPRINGFIELD, Mo. – Tammy Dickinson, United States Attorney for the Western District of Missouri, announced today that seven Springfield, Mo., residents are among 13 defendants who have been indicted for their roles in a conspiracy to receive more than $340,000 in fraudulent income tax refunds.
Cherie Christine Dupuis, 42, Claudia Dorsey, 33, Travis L. Ashmead, 29, Amanda Leigh Boyd, 32, Johnny L. Cooper, 25, Lisa Lorre Dehaven, 34, and Jeannie Marie Rhodes, 33, all of Springfield; Shawna Marie Hughey, 36, of Joplin, Mo.; Delbert L. Allen, 36, of Pleasant Hope, Mo.; William Joseph Coonce, 28, of Otterville, Mo.; Asia Michelle Couchman, 26, of Oak Grove, Mo.; Heather Nicole Drennen, 31, of Cameron, Mo.; and Jeannette R. Dunn, 47, of Huntsville, Ark., were charged in a 30-count indictment returned by a federal grand jury in Springfield on Tuesday, March 31, 2015.
The federal indictment alleges that 12 of the 13 defendants participated in a conspiracy to defraud the government by filing false claims for income tax refunds from February 2009 to March 2012, and all of the defendants filed false claims for income tax refunds, which resulted in them receiving a total of $340,630 in fraudulent refunds.
According to the indictment, conspirators obtained the identification information of individuals, including their names and Social Security numbers, and used that information to file federal income tax returns that included fictitious employment information and reported wages that had not been earned and employment taxes that had not been withheld. Conspirators allegedly shared employer information for the purpose of creating fictitious W-2 forms. They also shared dependent information, the indictment says, to enable them to falsely claim dependents on their returns.
According to the indictment, Dupuis received a $5,135 refund in 2009, a $9,174 refund in 2010, a $9,437 refund in 2011 and a $10,507 refund in 2012. All of these refunds were fraudulent, the indictment says, because they claimed employment income and withholdings that were false. Other conspirators received fraudulent refunds of similar or larger amounts, the indictment says, then gave Dupuis as much as half of their illegal proceeds.
Dorsey allegedly made false claims by filing fraudulent income tax returns for herself and two others. Dorsey also allegedly allowed Dupuis to use her laptop computer to file false federal income tax returns and allegedly allowed Dupuis to list her mailing address on false federal income tax returns filed by the defendants. Conspirators allegedly provided false and misleading statements to law enforcement officers when they were questioned about their roles and actions in the conspiracy.
Drennen is charged in a single count of making a false claim by filing a fraudulent income tax return in the name of another person, claiming a refund to which she was not entitled. In addition to the conspiracy, each of the other defendants is charged in various counts of making false claims by filing fraudulent income tax returns.
Dickinson cautioned that the charges contained in this indictment are simply accusations, and not evidence of guilt. Evidence supporting the charges must be presented to a federal trial jury, whose duty is to determine guilt or innocence.
This case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Steven M. Mohlhenrich. It was investigated by IRS-Criminal Investigation.