SAN FRANCISCO, Calif. – Taneshia Stephenson pleaded guilty yesterday to conspiracy to file false claims United States Attorney Melinda Haag and Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigation (IRS-CI) Special Agent in Charge Marcus Williams announced.
According to her plea agreement, beginning in July 2008, Stephenson helped other individuals obtain fraudulent tax refunds from the Internal Revenue Service based on false tax returns that were filed using stolen identities. Each of the tax returns that she assisted in filing were transmitted electronically, claimed no dependents, and listed Social Security payments as the only source of income. The false tax returns asked for a refund of all of the tax reported as withheld. As part of the scheme, the individuals Stephenson conspired with asked the IRS to directly deposit the fraudulent refund into a bank account that she could access. In 2008, Stephenson allowed her bank account to be used by co-conspirators for that purpose.
On February 28, 2012, Stephenson, 24, of Pittsburg, Calif., was charged with conspiracy to file false claims and three counts of filing a false claim. She pleaded guilty to conspiracy to file a false claim. Sentencing is scheduled for December 12, 2012.
The maximum statutory penalty for conspiracy to file false claims in violation of Title 18, U.S.C. § 286, is 10 years in prison and a fine of $250,000. However, any sentence following conviction would be imposed by the court after consideration of the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and the federal statute governing the imposition of a sentence, 18 U.S.C. § 3553.