POSTED: Thursday, January 23, 2014 - 12:00pm
UPDATED: Thursday, January 23, 2014 - 12:09pm
CORPUS CHRISTI, TX — Margo Marvette Stafford, Richard Clayton and Mark Jerome Jackson have been sentenced to federal prison for conspiring to use stolen identities to file fraudulent income tax returns, announced United States Attorney Kenneth Magidson. All previously entered guilty pleas in relation to the case.
Senior U.S. District Judge John D. Rainey sentenced Stafford to a term of 12 months and one day in federal prison followed by three years of supervised release. She was further ordered to pay restitution of $98,493. Jackson and Clayton had been sentenced previously to respective terms of six and 14 months, each to be followed by three years of supervised release. The court further ordered restitution to be paid by Jackson and Clayton in the amounts of $19,871 and $75,668, respectively.
In 2011, Internal Revenue Service – Criminal Investigation (IRS-CI) and the U.S. Postal Inspection Service (USPIS) began investigating a fraudulent tax refund scheme in the Corpus Christi area. During the course of the investigation, nine bank accounts were identified which received numerous fraudulent tax refund deposits. Those accounts were opened and controlled by Stafford, Clayton and Jackson.
At the time of their pleas, each admitted they were part of a conspiracy to defraud the United States, acknowledging they opened and maintained bank accounts for the purpose of receiving funds generated by fraudulent tax returns filed using stolen identities. Clayton also admitted he prepared and submitted some of the fraudulent tax returns using stolen identifying information provided by a co-conspirator. Stafford acknowledged stealing identity information from medical files at two nursing homes where she was employed and forwarding that information to a co-conspirator to use in the preparation of fraudulent tax returns. Stafford further admitted to receiving debit cards through the U.S. mail used to access $40,242 resulting from an additional 15 fraudulent tax returns.
Stafford opened and maintained three accounts which had received deposits tied to 47 fraudulent tax returns filed in the names of 47 different victims resulting in electronic tax refund deposits totaling $54,910. An additional seven fraudulent tax returns requested $14,848 in tax refunds, but were detected as fraudulent and not deposited. Agents found 43 fraudulent tax refunds were deposited into five accounts Clayton controlled totaling $56,732.30, with an additional 19 fraudulent income tax returns requesting $31,841 determined to be fraudulent and not deposited. The one account used by Jackson had 17 electronic tax refund deposits related to fraudulent tax returns filed in the names of 17 different individuals, totaling $19,871.
Stafford was permitted to remain on bond and voluntarily surrender to a U.S. Bureau of Prisons (BOP) facility to be determined in the near future. Jackson has also been allowed to voluntarily surrender, while Clayton has already reported to a BOP facility to serve his sentence.
These cases were investigated by IRS-CI and USPIS and are being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Robert D. Thorpe Jr.