by Anneli Rufus
Five East Bay scammers were indicted by a federal grand jury in Oakland last week on charges that they perpetrated a massive false-tax-returns scheme that netted them $6.2 million from the IRS.
According to a US Department of Justice news release:
"Ayani Davis, Niyah Edwards, Latrece O’Neal, Samuel Warren, and Reshana Nolen were charged with conspiracy to file false claims. In addition to the conspiracy charge, O’Neal was charged with obstructing the IRS and Nolen was charged with filing a false claim.
"According to allegations in an Indictment, Davis, Edwards, O’Neal, Warren and others agreed to participate in a scheme to obtain or help others obtain payment of false claims for refunds from the IRS. A second Indictment alleges that Nolen agreed to participate in the scheme with other individuals to obtain or help others obtain payment of false claims for refunds from the IRS.
"As alleged in the Indictments, the defendants filed false 2007 and 2008 income tax returns using names that the defendants illegally obtained or obtained by some agreement with another person. The Indictments also allege that the defendants used bank accounts of other individuals to receive the payments and that O’Neal filed multiple false tax returns and asked witnesses to provide false statements to IRS criminal agents about her role in the scheme."
In other words, the five suspects were allegedly somehow able to use the names and other vital information of other individuals in order to allegedly file false tax returns that resulted in refunds from the IRS. As for how many of those false claims they filed....
"According to criminal complaints filed by an IRS-CI Special Agent, the IRS identified 790 fraudulent income tax returns which resulted in more than $6.2 million in fraudulent refund claims."
That comes out to nearly $7,000 per claim.
"In March and April of 2009, IRS-CI agents executed nine search warrants in the Northern and Eastern Districts of California related to this scheme. The residences searched maintained internet service accounts with IP addresses that were assigned to the locations at the time the fraudulent income tax returns were filed with the IRS. These nine locations were also residences of individuals who maintained bank accounts that were listed on the fraudulent income tax returns to receive the fraudulent refunds."
Two of the suspects were arrested in Antioch and Pittsburg:
"O’Neal and Davis are currently in custody. O’Neal was arrested in Antioch, Calif., and is next scheduled to appear in federal court today. Davis was arrested in Pittsburg, Calif., and is next scheduled to appear in federal court on Oct. 5. Niyah Edwards was arrested in Sacramento, Calif., and released. She was ordered to appear in federal court on Oct. 4, 2010. Nolen has not been apprehended."
Might she be filing taxes somewhere as we speak?
"The maximum statutory penalty for conspiracy to file false claims, in violation of Title 18 U.S.C. § 286 is 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine. The maximum statutory penalty for obstructing the IRS, in violation of Title 26 U.S.C. § 7212(a) is three years in prison and a fine of $250,000. The maximum statutory penalty for filing a false claim, in violation of Title 18 U.S.C. § 287 is five years in prison and a $250,000 fine. However, any sentence following conviction would be imposed by the court after consideration of the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and the federal statute governing the imposition of a sentence, 18 U.S.C. § 3553.
"Thomas M. Newman is the Assistant U.S. Attorney who is prosecuting the case with the assistance of Kathy Tat. The prosecution is the result of an investigation by the Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigation.
"Please note, an indictment contains only allegations against an individual and, as with all defendants, Davis, Edwards, O’Neal, Warren and Nolan must be presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty."