Conspirators Defrauded Federal Government and Several States
WASHINGTON – Mary Bennett, Narendrakumar Patel and Eugenia Burks, all residents of Elmore County, Ala., were sentenced for their roles in an identity theft and tax fraud scheme. Bennett was sentenced today to 75 months in prison; Patel was sentenced yesterday to 24 months in prison; and Burks was sentenced yesterday to 18 months in prison. Bennett had previously pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud, as well as aggravated identity theft, while Burks also had pleaded guilty to conspiracy. Patel pleaded guilty to forging state securities. Assistant Attorney General for the Justice Department's Tax Division Kathryn Keneally, Acting U.S. Attorney for the Middle District of Alabama Sandra J. Stewart, the U.S. Secret Service and the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) made the announcement.
According to court documents, the defendants were part of a conspiracy to fraudulently obtain both federal income tax refunds as well as state income tax refunds from several different states by using stolen identities to file false tax returns. Fraudulently obtained refund checks were mailed to various addresses used by the conspiracy, while other refunds were obtained through direct deposits into numerous bank accounts controlled by the conspiracy. Bennett admitted to being the one responsible for actually filing the false tax returns and also to storing stolen identity information at her home. Some of the checks obtained by the scheme were cashed by Patel, the former owner of a check-cashing business, who admitted that he knowingly cashed the forged checks and shared in the proceeds.