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Justice News

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

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Friday, May 18, 2018

Inmate who Orchestrated Complex Tax Fraud Scheme From Multiple Corrections Facilities Sentenced to 8 Years in Federal Prison

PITTSBURGH, Pa. – A former resident of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, has been sentenced in federal court to 96 months of incarceration, followed by five years of supervised release, and payment of $246,170.03 in restitution, on his convictions for conspiracy to commit bank and mail fraud and conspiracy to defraud the United States, United States Attorney Scott W. Brady announced today.

United States District Judge Mark R. Hornak imposed the sentence on Reginald Harris, 51.

According to information presented to the court, from around September 2009 through December 2012, Harris, while imprisoned on state offenses at SCI-Cresson and other correctional facilities, conspired with others to defraud the Internal Revenue Service by filing fraudulent tax returns and collecting refunds in the names of other people, many of whom were fellow inmates at state facilities. After his release from state prison, Harris was charged with a federal drug-related offense. When serving that sentence and while awaiting sentencing on the tax-related offenses, Harris continued to commit tax offenses while in federal custody at North East Ohio Corrections Center. While in federal custody, he arranged for the filing of fraudulent tax returns of other individuals in federal custody at NEOCC.

The Court concluded that Harris was the leader of the complex tax fraud scheme, and that he was responsible for the filing of hundreds of tax returns that sought hundreds of thousands of fraudulent refunds. He coordinated the scheme through several non-incarcerated individuals who established banks accounts, mailed the tax returns, and obtained the information for the tax returns. Harris also taught other inmates how to conduct the scheme.

Prior to imposing sentence, Judge Hornak recognized that Harris was the hub for a complicated and substantial tax fraud scheme that affected many people and was hard to detect. He further emphasized that Harris recruited others who did not appear predisposed to commit this type of crime without Harris’s substantial direction. Judge Hornak also described Harris’s substantial criminal history as a ‘buffet of criminal conduct’ that included a wide array of offenses involving fraud, theft, drug sales, and threats of violence, and expressed concern that a prison sentence alone seemed unlikely to deter Harris’s further criminal conduct.

Assistant United States Attorney Brendan T. Conway prosecuted this case on behalf of the government.

United States Attorney Brady commended The Internal Revenue Service – Criminal Investigation, United States Postal Inspection Service and the Department of Homeland Security – Homeland Security Investigations conducted the investigation that led to the prosecution of Harris.

Topic(s): 
Financial Fraud
Updated May 18, 2018