Federal Indictment Returned in Tax Fraud Scheme

by ParkmanLawFirm on February 4, 2013

Last week a federal grand jury returned an indictment against a Montgomery woman, Scottie Alice Johnson, charging her with conspiracy to commit theft of public funds and conspiracy to defraud the IRS. The US Attorney’s Office for the Middle District of Alabama, along with IRS special agents and the DOJ tax division, jointly investigated the case and recommended prosecution. While Johnson is presumed innocent until proven guilty, if she is convicted she faces maximum sentences of five years for the conspiracy count and ten years for each count of theft of public funds. Johnson also faces forfeiture, mandatory restitution, and civil and criminal fines.

According to the indictment returned on Thursday, the conspiracy ran a span of six years, during which Johnson conspired with others to defraud the IRS and commit theft of public funds. The scheme involved co-conspirators who, along with Johnson, filed false federal income tax returns with stolen identities. They had the fraudulently obtained tax refunds direct-deposited into several bank accounts, including accounts in Johnson’s and another individual’s names. The indictment alleges that bank accounts associated with the conspiracy received at least $1.3 million in false tax refunds.

A federal indictment of this nature carries serious implication for an accused. Along with fines and a lengthy sentence of incarceration, prosecutors often seek asset forfeitures of significant value that are in any way associated with the conspiracy. In order to convict a defendant of a conspiracy count, the government must prove each element of the conspiracy beyond a reasonable doubt.  Such elements generally include specific intent to commit a crime (e.g. defraud the IRS), agreement with another person to engage in the crime, and the commission of an overt act by one of the conspirators in furtherance of the conspiracy.

In this case, the prosecution will likely attempt to establish that Johnson solicited the help of others in filing false tax returns with stolen identities and directing the refunds to hers and another’s bank accounts. If successful, they prove the required intent by showing that Johnson developed the scheme with the overall purpose of obtaining illegitimate tax refunds through the false filings. The overt act will lie in the actual filings of the returns. Generally, the toughest element to prove in a conspiracy of this type is the agreement with co-conspirators. Prosecutors will try to introduce circumstantial evidence showing that the conspirators acted in concert in the overall scheme, as direct evidence of conspiring conversations is often hard to come by.

If you or someone you know has been charged with a criminal conspiracy, tax crime, or other white-collar fraud, your top priority must be to obtain the best defense representation possible. With the virtually unlimited resources of the federal government at the prosecutor’s disposal, you need a competent and experienced attorney who can go to battle for you in court. The white collar criminal attorneys at Parkman & White, LLC have had remarkable success in obtaining acquittals for the clients on federal charges, and are ready to put their experience to work for you. Contact the Parkman firm at 205-244-1920, or visit our website at parkmanlawfirm.com today for more information and free consultation about your case.


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