Killeen Trio Sentenced to Federal Prison for Tax Refund Fraud Scheme
Three Killeen, TX, residents were sentenced to federal prison for their roles in a tax refund scheme with an estimated intended loss of $1.8 million announced Acting United States Attorney Richard L. Durbin, Jr., and Internal Revenue Service-Criminal Investigation (IRS-CI) Special Agent in Charge William Cotter.
Yesterday afternoon in Austin, United States District Judge Lee Yeakel sentenced 34-year-old Albert Powell, 32-year-old Paris Stephens and 34-year-old Ronnie Cole to 54 months, 36 months and 18 months in federal prison, respectively. Judge Yeakel also ordered that Powell and Stephens jointly and severally pay $852,226 in restitution to the IRS; Cole, $121,810 in restitution to the IRS.
According to court records and testimony, from 2010 to 2012, the defendants were involved in a scheme to obtain personal identification information from various sources then used it to file more than 350 fraudulent income tax returns which generally claimed refunds between $3,000 and $7,000. In July 2014, the defendants pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to defraud the government with respect to claims and one count of fraudulent use and possession of a means of identification.
“The sentencings of Albert Powell, Paris Stevens and Ronnie Cole should be a reminder to others that IRS-Criminal Investigation is determined to bring down those who use identity theft to enrich themselves,” said Special Agent in Charge William Cotter, IRS-CI San Antonio Field Office. “Honest and law abiding citizens are fed up with the likes of those who use deceit and fraud to line their pockets with other people's money.”
This Stolen Identity Refund Fraud (SIRF) case was investigated by Internal Revenue Service-Criminal Investigation. Assistant United States Attorney Matthew Devlin prosecuted this case on behalf of the Government.