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Justice News

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

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Jonesville Man Sentenced for Role in Tax Scheme that Submitted to the IRS Claims for Over $400,000 in Refunds

ABINGDON, VIRGINIA – A Jonesville man who worked with his brother, and several others, to submit claims for more than $400,000 of fraudulent tax returns, was sentenced today in the United States District Court for the Western District of Virginia in Abingdon, United States Attorney John P. Fishwick Jr. announced today.

Tommy Witt, 57, of Jonesville, Virginia, previously pled guilty to one count of making false, fictitious or fraudulent claims and one count of conspiring to defraud the United States Government in respect to claims. Today in District Court, Witt was sentenced to 30 months in federal prison and was ordered to pay $67,356 in restitution.

“Just a few days ago, millions of Americans filed their taxes and fulfilled their civic obligation. They must be able to do this knowing the process is safe and reliable,” United States Attorney John P. Fishwick Jr. said today. “When individuals participate in brazen tax schemes like this one, we will hold them accountable.”

“An integral part of IRS Criminal Investigation’s mission involves detecting, investigating, and stopping fraudulent refund schemes that ultimately  victimize our nation’s honest taxpayers,” said Thomas Jankowski, Special Agent in Charge, IRS Criminal Investigation, Washington D.C. Field Office.  “We will remain committed to dismantling criminal conspiracies designed solely to defraud and bring the law breakers to the table of justice."

According to evidence presented at previous hearings by Special Assistant United States Attorney Kevin Jayne, Tommy Witt, and others, participated in a sophisticated conspiracy to defraud the federal government. The scheme began when David Witt, who was at the time an inmate in a Tennessee state prison, gathered personally identifiable information (including birth dates and social security numbers) belonging to other inmates. David Witt would then use that information to complete Internal Revenue Service Form 1040s. These Form 1040s contained false information, including false addresses outside of prison and false claims that the inmates were due a tax refund based on wages never earned by those inmates.

Subsequently, these Form 1040s were sent to persons outside of the prison, namely co-conspirators Tommy Witt, William Ziehler, Diane Powers and Richard Powers, who then forwarded them to the IRS for processing. Based on these Form 1040s, the IRS issued tax refund checks in the names of these inmates but sent the checks to the addresses associated with the conspirators. Many of these checks were cashed at banks throughout Southwest Virginia by the co-conspirators using fraudulent power-of-attorney forms.

In all, the conspiracy filed 431 fraudulent tax returns claiming approximately $400,000 in fraudulent returns. The co-conspirators, including Tommy Witt, cashed $67,356 in tax refund checks.

The investigation of the case was conducted by the Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigation and United States Postal Inspection Service.  Special Assistant United States Attorney Kevin Jayne prosecuted the case for the United States.


Updated April 21, 2016