Erie Man Sentenced to 5 Years in Prison in Tax Refund Fraud Case
ERIE, Pa. - A former resident of Erie, Pennsylvania, has been sentenced in federal court to 60 months in jail and ordered to pay $62,653.00 in restitution on his conviction of conspiracy to defraud the government with respect to claims and aggravated identify theft, United States Attorney Scott W. Brady announced today. The 60 month sentence is consecutive to Johnson’s 120 month sentence he received on October 8, 2013 for a federal firearm conviction.
United States District Judge David S. Cercone imposed the sentence on James Lamont Johnson, 52.
According to information presented to the court, Johnson engaged in a conspiracy to defraud the United States by submitting false claims for income tax refunds using individuals’ identification information which was unlawfully obtained. Johnson stole the identities of 56 individuals who were clients of the Community of Caring, a non-profit social service agency in Erie, where he had access to the clients’ personal identification information. Johnson utilized TurboTax and filed approximately 71 tax returns, seeking refunds from the IRS of more than $100,000.00. Johnson and his co-conspirator inputted the stolen identity information and used wage information from W-2 forms taken from actual employees of local businesses to perpetrate the fraudulent tax refund scheme. The scheme to defraud successfully obtained more than $60,000.00 in tax refunds. The refunds came in the form of prepaid debit cards and U.S. Treasury checks, which were mailed to addresses where Johnson could access the mail and retrieve the refunds.
Assistant United States Attorney Marshall J. Piccinini prosecuted this case on behalf of the government.
United States Attorney Brady commended the Internal Revenue Service, Criminal Investigation for the investigation leading to the successful prosecution of Johnson.