Two residents of Tangipahoa Parish, Louisiana, pleaded guilty today to multiple criminal charges for their involvement in a stolen identity tax refund fraud scheme, announced Acting Assistant Attorney General Caroline D. Ciraolo of the Justice Department’s Tax Division and U.S. Attorney Kenneth Allen Polite Jr. of the Eastern District of Louisiana.
At today’s plea hearing in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana, Angela Chaney, 43, pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to defraud the United States and one count of aggravated identity theft, and Thaddeus Richardson, 50, pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to defraud the United States, one count of conspiracy to commit money laundering and seven counts of theft of public money.
According to court documents, Chaney and Richardson conspired with each other and others to file false federal income tax returns using stolen identities that included false claims for tax refunds. Richardson owned and operated a funeral home in Tangipahoa Parish and used the business bank account as part of the scheme. Chaney and others used individuals’ names and social security numbers to prepare false tax returns and directed the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) to mail refund checks to addresses in Louisiana, including to post office boxes opened by some of the co-conspirators. Chaney and others falsely endorsed the refund checks and then brought those checks to Richardson and others. Richardson deposited the checks into the business bank account before dividing the proceeds amongst the co-conspirators.
The defendants are scheduled to be sentenced on Oct. 6 and each faces a statutory maximum sentence of five years in prison for conspiracy to defraud the United States. Chaney also faces a mandatory minimum sentence of two years in prison for aggravated identity theft. Richardson also faces a statutory maximum sentence of 10 years in prison for each theft of public money count and 20 years in prison for conspiracy to commit money laundering. In addition to a prison sentence, the defendants face potential fines, forfeiture and restitution.
After today’s guilty pleas, six of the seven defendants charged in the indictment have pleaded guilty. Corey Lewis, aka Coco, 37; Craig Lewis, 40; Brad Lewis, aka Bird, 32; and Cedrick Mitchell, aka Skeet, 39, previously pleaded guilty to conspiracy and related charges and await their sentencing hearings scheduled in August and September. The case of Martin Jackson Sr., 48, of Tangipahoa Parish, is still pending.
Acting Assistant Attorney General Ciraolo and U.S. Attorney Polite commended special agents of IRS-Criminal Investigation and the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, who investigated the case, and Trial Attorneys Hayden Brockett and Lauren Castaldi of the Tax Division and Assistant U.S. Attorney Dall Kammer of the Eastern District of Louisiana, who are prosecuting the case.