February 11, 2014 at 1:05 AM
NEWARK, N.J. — A South Plainfield, woman who conspired with others to defraud the U.S. Department of the Treasury of more than $1 million in income tax refunds over a four-year period was sentenced today to 44 months in prison, U.S. Attorney Paul J. Fishman announced today.
Jahmeelah Mitchell, 30, of South Plainfield, N.J., previously pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge Claire C. Cecchi to an information charging her with one count of conspiracy to defraud the United States. Judge Cecchi imposed the sentence today in Newark federal court.
According to documents filed in this case and statements made in court:
Between April 2008 and August 2011, Mitchell and others advised numerous people that they could receive tax refunds of several thousand dollars each by filing fraudulent federal tax returns. The scheme involved reporting inflated amounts of income and taxes withheld, which resulted in artificially inflated tax refunds.
Mitchell and her conspirators instructed others to provide Mitchell with names, Social Security numbers, dates of birth, number of dependents and addresses. After obtaining this information, Mitchell electronically filed the fraudulent tax returns using internet-based software from Mitchell’s residence. Mitchell received the tax refunds in the form of either U.S. Treasury checks or prepaid debit cards deposited into various accounts Mitchell established in the names of her conspirators. Mitchell retained a percentage of the refunds as her fee for filing the fraudulent returns.
On August 22, 2011, law enforcement agents executed a search warrant at Mitchell’s residence and recovered ledgers containing identifying information for approximately 100 individuals, as well as a stack of prepaid credit cards issued in the names of dozens of people. Subsequent analysis of this information revealed that a total of 127 people were participants and/or victims, and Mitchell filed hundreds of fraudulent tax returns seeking $1,082,638 in refunds.
In addition to the prison term, Judge Cecchi sentenced Mitchell to three years of supervised release and ordered her to pay $1,082,638 in restitution.
U.S. Attorney Fishman credited special agents of the U.S. Secret Service, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge James Mottola; IRS B Criminal Investigation, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Shantelle P. Kitchen; and inspectors of the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, under the direction of Postal Inspector in Charge Maria L. Kelokates, for the investigation leading today’s sentencing.