Five area residents charged in tax fraud scheme
BROWNSVILLE, TEXAS (KVEO NEWSCENTER 23) — Five family members have been charged in an eight-count indictment alleging a tax fraud scheme that involved filing false tax returns on behalf of deceased individuals, United States Attorney Kenneth Magidson announced today along with Internal revenue Service-Criminal Investigation Special Agent in Charge Lucy Cruz.
The indictment alleges Judy Lynn McCune recruited members of her family, including her mother Loretta Ann McCune, sister Rania Ann Sanchez and sons Robert Gutierrez and Edward Gutierrez in the scheme to prepare federal tax returns and cash United States Treasury refund checks in the name of deceased individuals.
Just moments ago, Judy Lynn McCune, Sanchez and Edward Gutierrez turned themselves in to federal authorities and are expected to appear before U.S. Magistrate Judge Felix Recio today at 10:00 a.m. Loretta Ann McCune is expected to also turn herself in sometime in the near future. A warrant remains outstanding for Robert Gutierrez.
“Investigating identity theft and refund fraud is a priority for IRS-CI,” said Cruz. “Stealing identities and filing false tax returns is a serious crime that hurts innocent taxpayers. These indictments should serve as a strong warning to those who are considering similar conduct. IRS-CI is serious about investigating these crimes and holding to account those who would defraud the government.”
Judy Lynn McCune allegedly recruited her mother to prepare and file the false returns, while her sister and sons cashed refund checks issued in the name of deceased individuals, according to the indictment. The conspiracy allegedly involved obtaining Social Security numbers and dates of birth for deceased individuals through the Internet and then filing both paper and electronic federal income tax returns using the identifiers of these deceased individuals. The refunds were allegedly directly deposited in the personal bank account or mailed to the personal addresses of the accused. The indictment alleges the total scheme consisted of approximately 340 false claims totaling $763,124.
Loretta Ann McCune, Robert Gutierrez and Edward Gutierrez are charged with filing false, fictitious or fraudulent claims. The indictment further charges Judy Lynn McCune and Loretta Ann McCune with aggravated identity theft for their unlawful use of the deceased individuals name and Social Security numbers as well as theft of government money in connection with the falsely filed returns.
If convicted of the scheme to prepare federal tax returns and cash the refund checks in the name of deceased persons, all face up to 10 years in prison and a possible $250,000 fine. Judy Lynn and Loretta Ann McCune also face the same punishment if they are convicted of theft of government money. Loretta Ann McCune, Robert Gutierrez and Edward Gutierrez face a possible sentence of five years in prison if convicted of filing false, fictitious or fraudulent claims. If convicted of aggravated identity theft, Judy Lynn McCune and Loretta Ann McCune will receive an additional mandatory two-year prison term that must be served consecutive to any other prison term imposed.
IRS investigated and Assistant United States Attorney Karen Betancourt is prosecuting the case.