WASHINGTON – Lea’Tice Phillips, of Montgomery County, Ala., was sentenced to serve 94 months of incarceration today, announced Assistant Attorney General Kathryn Keneally of the Justice Department’s Tax Division and U.S. Attorney for the Middle District of Alabama George L. Beck Jr. Phillips was also ordered to pay restitution of $567,631. Phillips had pleaded guilty to one count of wire fraud and one count of aggravated identity theft on May 30, 2013, for her role in a stolen identity refund fraud scheme.
According to the court documents, Lea’Tice Phillips worked for an Alabama state agency and had access to state databases that contained forms of identification of individuals. Between October 2009 and April 2012, Phillips conspired with Antoinette Djonret and others to file false tax returns using stolen identities. On multiple occasions, Phillips accessed a state database to obtain identification which she then sent to Djonret using her state email. Djonret and others used the stolen identification to file false tax returns, mostly from Djonret’s residence in Montgomery. Djonret and her co-conspirators used an elaborate network of individuals to launder the tax refunds. They recruited individuals to purchase prepaid debit cards on their behalf. Fraudulently obtained tax refunds were directed to the prepaid debit cards that Djonret and her co-conspirators used to obtain the proceeds. Some of the prepaid debit cards were in the name of Phillips. In total, Djonret filed over 1,000 false tax returns that claimed over $1.7 million in fraudulent tax refunds. Antoinette Djonret was sentenced to serve 12 years in prison for her role in the conspiracy.
The case was investigated by Special Agents of the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) – Criminal Investigation. Trial Attorneys Jason H. Poole and Michael Boteler of the Justice Department’s Tax Division and Assistant U.S. Attorney Todd Brown prosecuted the case.
Additional information about the Tax Division and its enforcement efforts may be found at www.justice.gov/tax.