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A former employee of Tift Regional Hospital has recently been sentenced to serve 84 months in jail for fraudulently submitting 1,100 bogus tax returns, including making 531 tax claims using the data of 16 year olds. Her husband has been sentenced to serve 147 Months in the Bureau of Prisons. Both are required to pay restitution of $1,107,802.00 to the IRS.
United States Attorney for the Middle District of Georgia, Michael J. Moore, recently announced Honorable W. Louis Sands’ verdict on Mrs. Patrice Taylor, 34 and her co-conspirator husband, Antonio Taylor, 44, both of Ashburn, Georgia. The total loss suffered by the IRS was $1,199,897.00
Sentencing took place on July 27, 2015 with Mrs. Taylor convicted of aggravated identity theft and conspiracy to commit wire fraud. Taylor had previously pled guilty to the offences and took a plea deal. She admitted to committing the offenses between January 2011 and February 2013.
According to evidence presented at trial, Mrs. Taylor used Social Security numbers obtained during her employment at Tift Regional Hospital to file the tax returns. She also fraudulently filed a tax return of her own, claiming she had a non-existent dependent, resulting in her receiving a tax refund of $6,776.
Trial evidence showed Taylor made 114 separate requests for PIN numbers via the Internal Revenue Service’s Automated Electronic Filing PIN Request service using her mobile phone, and between January 2012 and October 2012, along with her husband, filed electronic tax returns using two separate computers. Both were located in her home, and were tied to her and her husband by their unique IP addresses.
Two other conspirators were also sentenced: Jarrett Jones, aged 38, of Ty-Ty, Georgia, and Victoria Davis, aged 26, of Cordele, Georgia. Jones plead guilty aggravated identity theft and conspiracy to commit wire fraud, and received a 20 month sentence and an order to pay restitution of $94,959.00. Davis entered a guilty plea for theft of government property and aggravated identity theft and was ordered to pay $6,256.00 and serve 12 months in jail.
According to Moore, “The stealing of a person’s identity to take money from the United States Treasury wreaks havoc not just on the individual victim, but also on every law-abiding taxpayer. These folks aren’t stealing from nameless, faceless people; they are stealing from each of us.”
Back in February, when Patrice Taylor entered her guilty plea, Moore said “We will use every resource at our disposal to make sure that those who use stolen identities to file phony tax returns and steal money end up with an identification form unique to them – one issued by the federal prison system.” All four have now received that ID.
The number of individuals committing tax fraud has spiraled in recent years, with hospital employees often the ones who steal the patient data that enables them to commit the fraud. Unfortunately it often takes a number of years before the crimes are discovered, but these verdicts, along with others recently announced by the Department of Justice, show that eventually the crimes will catch up with the perpetrators.
Conspiracy to commit wire fraud carries a maximum jail term of 20 years, in addition to a mandatory 2 years in jail for identity theft which is tacked onto the sentence. A financial penalty of up to $250,000 can also be issued, and all fraudulently obtained funds must be paid back. All four can consider themselves fortunate not to have received much lengthier jail terms.