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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Western District of New York

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Dunkirk Man Pleads Guilty to Filing Tax Returns for More Than 120 Dead People


BUFFALO, N.Y.– U.S. Attorney William J. Hochul, Jr. announced today that John M. Berry, Jr., 42, of Dunkirk, N.Y., pleaded guilty before U.S. District Court Judge Richard J. Arcara, to making a false claim against the United States. The charge carries a maximum sentence of five years in prison, a fine of 250,000, or both. 

            Assistant U.S. Attorney Aaron J. Mango, who is handling the case, stated that between September 3, 2008 and March 25, 2009, the defendant filed 122 false income tax returns for the tax years 2007 and 2008 with the Internal Revenue Service. During that time, Berry  obtained the personal and identifying information for 122 recently deceased individuals and then used that information to file federal tax returns on behalf of the deceased. The defendant created fraudulent income and withholding information for the deceased and filed the returns electronically.

            The 122 tax returns sought refunds totaling $217,520 from the Internal Revenue Service, of which the defendant received $92,462.12. The refunds were deposited directly into Berry’s bank account. 

            “This case should serve as a warning that our Office, working with our law enforcement partners, will not tolerate attempts to either steal the identities of individuals, or the money of the taxpayers of this country,” said U.S. Attorney Hochul. “That this defendant would rob the identities of deceased individuals is concerning, and could have brought additional grief and pain for their loved ones.” 

            The plea is the culmination of an investigation on the part of Special Agents of the Internal Revenue Service - Criminal Investigations, under the direction of Toni M. Weirauch, Special Agent in Charge.

            Sentencing is scheduled for August 26, 2013, at 1:00 p.m. before Judge Arcara.



Updated December 10, 2014