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Press Release

Memphis Woman Sentenced To Six Years In Federal Prison For Role In Tax Fraud Identity Theft Scheme

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

Memphis, TN – Edward L. Stanton III, United States Attorney for the Western District of Tennessee, and Christopher A. Henry, Special Agent in Charge, IRS-Criminal Investigation, announced today that Cheryl Wright, 30, of Memphis, Tenn., was sentenced by United States District Judge John T. Fowlkes, Jr. to serve 72 months (six years) in prison followed by three years of supervised release, and is jointly liable with co-conspirator Nakita Brooks to pay restitution in the amount of $690,767.84 to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS).

“Through her fraudulent tax scheme, Cheryl Wright victimized the IRS and the people whose identities she stole,” said United States Attorney Stanton. “And while she may have avoided paying taxes and received hundreds of thousands of dollars in refunds she was not owed, she will now pay the ultimate price of spending the next six years in a federal prison for her criminal acts.”.

“Investigating refund fraud and identity theft is a priority for IRS Criminal Investigation,” said Christopher A. Henry, Special Agent in Charge. “Stealing identities and filing false tax returns is a serious crime that hurts innocent taxpayers. Today’s sentencing should serve as a strong warning to those who are considering similar conduct. Law enforcement is serious about investigating these crimes and holding those who would defraud the government accountable.”

On April 22, 2014, Wright pled guilty to one count of a three-count indictment charging her and co-conspirator, Nakita Brooks, 31, with conspiracy to file false tax returns, theft of public money and identity theft. According to the facts presented in the indictment and revealed during sentencing hearings, beginning as early as February 2010 through at least November 2011, Brooks and Wright filed hundreds of false tax returns using the personal identifying information of deceased individuals, including social security numbers.

In addition to filing false returns, Wright and Brooks also set up tax return services using stolen identities as the preparers of the returns. In 2010, the name of the company used to prepare the returns was Rattler’s Tax Pals. In 2011, the name of the company used to prepare the returns was Taxes Express. Three individuals, including a nine-year old girl from Indiana, had their tax information fraudulently listed as the preparers for these companies.

Brooks was sentenced July 11, 2014, by U.S. District Judge John T. Fowlkes, Jr., to serve 10 years in federal prison, to be followed by three years of supervised release, and ordered to pay restitution of $690,767.84 to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS).

This investigation was conducted by IRS Criminal Investigation. Assistant U.S. Attorney David Pritchard represented the government.

Updated March 19, 2015