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Justice News

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

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Thursday, December 11, 2014

Several Members Of Million Dollar Tax Fraud Ring Sentenced To Federal Prison, U.S. Attorney Announces

Memphis, Tenn. – Edward L. Stanton III, United States Attorney for the Western District of Tennessee, announced today that members of a large tax fraud ring were recently sentenced in federal court. Melissa Harris, 35, of Memphis, was sentenced to 102 months in federal prison. Erin Crutcher, 28, of Memphis, was sentenced to 48 months. Breunca Sutton, 29, of Memphis, was sentenced to 45 months. Angela Jacocks, 40; Vivian Sholar, 35; and Jennifer Freeman, 38; all of Memphis, have pled guilty and await sentencing. All had been charged in a 41-count federal indictment for stealing government funds through the filing of false income tax returns and identity theft.

According to the facts presented in the indictment and revealed during sentencing, between August 6, 2010, and July 27, 2011, Harris, Crutcher, and other individuals unlawfully obtained personal identifying information of victims, including high school students, and used this information to electronically file false federal income tax returns claiming refund amounts. Harris paid a juvenile to steal rosters containing students’ personal information from Memphis high schools. Using this information, Harris and Crutcher filed over 800 false returns and directed over $1.3 million of the generated refunds into the bank accounts of Jacocks, Sutton, Freeman, and Sholar. All of the conspirators received part of the refunds for their personal benefit and use.

All were ordered to pay restitution to the IRS ranging from $332,000 to $1.1 million.

“Because of their brazen criminal scheme, these individuals now face lengthy prison sentences and orders to pay back up to $1.1 million,” stated U.S. Attorney Stanton. “We will continue to work with the IRS to pursue, prosecute, and bring to justice those who steal from honest American taxpayers.”

The investigation was conducted by the United States Secret Service, IRS-Criminal Investigative Division, and Memphis Police Department. Assistant United States Attorney Stephen Hall represented the government.

Updated March 19, 2015