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Montgomerian stole state workers' identity info for fraud scheme
From: Erica Absetz <erica () riskbasedsecurity com>
Date: Fri, 31 May 2013 11:29:14 -0500


A Montgomery woman, Lea’Tice Phillips, pleaded guilty Thursday to wire
fraud and aggravated identify theft for using her state job to steal
identity information that was then used as part of a scheme to file
more than $1.7 million in fraudulent tax refunds.

The former state worker pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court in
Montgomery to one count of wire fraud and one count of aggravated
identity theft for her role in a scheme that used false tax returns to
defraud the Internal Revenue Service, according to the Justice
Department and the IRS.

She faces a sentence of between two and 22 years in prison, three
years of supervised release, restitution and a maximum fine of
$750,000, or twice the loss caused by the offense. Her sentencing date
has not yet been set.

Between October 2009 and April 2012, Phillips used her access to state
databases to steal identity information and email it, using her state
email account, to Antoinette Djonret and others so that they could use
the stolen identity information to file false tax returns, according
to the court documents.

Djonret and her co-conspirators then used an “elaborate network” of
individuals to launder the tax refunds by having the individuals put
the funds on debit cards and then return them to the conspirators,
according to the Justice Department.

Some of the prepaid debit cards were in Phillips’ name, according to
court records. In total, Djonret filed more than 1,000 false tax
returns claiming more than $1.7 million in fraudulent tax refunds.

On Feb. 8, a federal judge sentenced Djonret, who had pleaded guilty
in October to conspiracy, aggravated identity theft and filing false
tax returns, to 12 years in prison and ordered her to pay $1,291,658
in restitution.

The case was investigated by the Criminal Investigation division of
the IRS. Trial Attorneys Jason H. Poole and Michael Boteler of the
Justice Department’s Tax Division and Assistant U.S. Attorney for the
Middle District of Alabama Todd Brown are prosecuting the case.
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