Three residents of Montgomery, Alabama, each pleaded guilty during the past week to one count of conspiracy to defraud the government and one count of aggravated identity theft, announced Deputy Assistant Attorney General Ronald A. Cimino of the Justice Department’s Tax Division and U.S. Attorney George L. Beck Jr. for the Middle District of Alabama.
Cruz Castillo Burnett, Jacorey Giddens and Rodrickus Howard were indicted on May 1. According to court documents, the defendants conspired to acquire the means of identification of individuals, including names, Social Security numbers and dates of birth, of other persons without their knowledge or consent. From March 2011 to April 2013, the defendants used these stolen identities to file more than 500 false tax returns, and each return claimed fraudulent refunds from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). The defendants received the fraudulent refunds in various forms, including U.S. Treasury checks, direct deposits to bank accounts and direct deposits onto prepaid debit cards in the names of identity theft victims.
The three defendants each face a statutory maximum sentence of 10 years in prison for the conspiracy count, followed by up to three years of supervised release. The defendants will each be required to serve a statutory mandatory sentence of two years in prison for the aggravated identity theft count.