Washington, DC - A Washington, D.C. resident pleaded guilty to conspiracy to defraud the United States and aggravated identity theft on December 4, 2018, announced Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Richard E. Zuckerman of the Justice Department’s Tax Division and Kelly R. Jackson, Special Agent in Charge of IRS-Criminal Investigation, Washington D.C. Field Office.
The guilty plea arose from a scheme to file false tax returns in the names of unemployed individuals that fraudulently claimed refunds. Scutchings and her co-conspirators cashed or deposited more than $1 million in Treasury checks illegally obtained through the scheme.
According to court documents, Sheila Scutchings and her co-conspirators prepared false returns and then filed the returns in the names of co-conspirators and individuals in the community, whose names and Social Security numbers Scutchings and her co-conspirators obtained. Scutchings requested that the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) send the fraudulent refunds to addresses that Scutchings and her co-conspirators controlled. Included among the addresses were Scutchings’s own address and those of members of her family. Scutchings and her co-conspirators then cashed the refund checks at check cashing businesses and deposited them in various bank accounts, including a bank account in Scutchings’s name. In total, more than $350,000 of fraudulently obtained tax refund checks were deposited in Scutchings’s bank account alone.
United States District Judge Rosemary M. Collyer scheduled sentencing for March 5, 2019. Scutchings faces a maximum sentence of five years in prison on the conspiracy charge and a mandatory two years in prison on the aggravated identity theft charge.
Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Zuckerman commended special agents of the Department of Treasury – Office of Inspector General and IRS – Criminal Investigation, who conducted the investigation, and Tax Division Trial Attorneys Thomas Koelbl and William Guappone, who prosecuted the case.