U. S. Department of Justice Release
TALLAHASSEE, FLORIDA B Kimberly Watson, 32, Malcolm Lipscomb, 35, Shavone Ricketts, 31, and Alfretta Jones, 37, all of Tallahassee, have been indicted for conspiracy to file false claims for more than $80,000 in federal tax refunds. The indictment was announced today by Pamela C. Marsh, U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Florida.
The indictment alleges that between June 2009 and September 2012, the defendants conspired to file false federal income tax returns that included fabricated wage, tax withholding, and tax credit information. When refunds were issued on the bogus returns, the conspirators had them deposited into their own bank accounts or placed onto pre-paid debit cards.
Watson, Lipscomb, and Ricketts are also charged with multiple counts of filing false claims, wire fraud, as well as aggravated identity theft, based on the unauthorized use of the personal identifying information of others.
The defendants have been arrested and are scheduled for trial on March 4, 2013, before United States District Judge Robert L. Hinkle.
If convicted of conspiracy, each defendant faces up to ten years in prison. Wire fraud carries a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison. The offense of filing false claims is punishable by five years in prison. Each count of aggravated identity theft carries a mandatory sentence of two years in prison, which must be served consecutively to any other sentence.
Jones is additionally charged with obstruction of justice, which carries a maximum sentence of ten years in prison, and with making false statements and perjury, each of which carries a maximum sentence of five years in prison.
U.S. Attorney Marsh commended the work of the Internal Revenue Service – Criminal Investigations, the Leon County Sheriff=s Office, and the United States Postal Inspection Service, whose joint investigation led to the indictment in this case.
The case is being prosecuted as part of a Department of Justice initiative to fight stolen identity refund fraud (SIRF). In September 2012, the Department issued Tax Division Directive 144, which sets forth expedited Department review procedures for SIRF cases, enabling law enforcement to respond quickly and effectively to the grave challenges presented in SIRF cases and to prevent the victimization of innocent taxpayers whose identities are stolen by fraudsters.
Assistant United States Attorney Corey J. Smith is prosecuting the case.
An indictment is merely an allegation by a grand jury that a defendant has committed a violation of federal criminal law and is not evidence of guilt. All defendants are presumed innocent and entitled to a fair trial, during which it will be the government’s burden to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.