The mastermind of a more than $700,000 stolen identity tax refund fraud scheme was found guilty by a jury of conspiracy to commit theft of public money, theft of public money and aggravated identity theft, the Department of Justice, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Middle District of Alabama and the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) announced today.
Tarrish Tellis, 38, of Montgomery, Alabama, was found guilty after a three-day trial in Montgomery. According to evidence presented at trial, Tellis’ co-conspirator, Nakia Jackson, obtained approximately 700 names, dates of birth and social security numbers from an employee of the Alabama Medicaid State Agency. Jackson provided some of the names to Tellis, who in turn used them to file false tax returns. In exchange, Tellis taught Jackson how to file false tax returns.
According to evidence presented at trial, in order to hide his involvement in the scheme, Tellis orchestrated means in which to conceal the origin of the funds. Tellis recruited several friends and relatives, including Bobby Joe Means, Delancey Tolliver, Glen Powell Jr. and Tracey Montgomery, to open up bank accounts for the purpose of receiving fraudulent tax refunds. When a tax refund was deposited into their bank accounts, Tellis directed them to withdraw the money and provide it to him. He directed more than $300,000 to those accounts. Tellis took additional steps by recruiting a bank teller, Laquanta Clayton, who used her position to open up bank accounts in the name of fictitious individuals and in the name of her daughter’s father. Tellis directed around $200,000 into the accounts that Clayton controlled, which Clayton then withdrew and provided the majority of the money to Tellis. Tellis also took steps to conceal his involvement in the filing of false tax returns, including filing numerous tax returns by accessing a residential wireless router that was not password protected. By doing so, Tellis made it appear that the owner of the residence had filed the returns.
At his April 15 sentencing, Tellis faces a statutory minimum sentence of two years in prison and a statutory maximum sentence of 125 years in prison, plus fines and forfeiture.
On April 25, 2014, Jackson was sentenced to serve 87 months in prison. Clayton was sentenced on Feb. 19, 2014, to serve 21 months in prison. Tolliver was sentenced to serve 15 months in prison, Powell Jr. and Means were each sentenced to serve 12 months and one day in prison and Montgomery was sentenced to serve six months in prison.
The case was investigated by special agents of IRS – Criminal Investigation. Trial Attorneys Gregory P. Bailey, Charles M. Edgar Jr. and Michael C. Boteler of the Justice Department’s Tax Division, with the assistance of Assistant U.S. Attorney Todd Brown for the Middle District of Alabama, prosecuted the case.
Additional information about the Tax Division and its enforcement efforts may be found on the division’s website.