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Man pleads guilty to defrauding disabled in tax scheme

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Man pleads guilty to defrauding disabled in tax scheme

Tucsonan stole identities to claim $800K in bogus refunds

A Tucson man pleaded guilty Tuesday to conspiracy to defraud recipients of disability benefits through a tax-return scheme, the U.S. Attorney’s Office announced Wednesday.

Shelton DeWayne Tanner, 40, admitted that he and others used the identities of taxpayers receiving disability benefits to file more than 150 tax returns and claim more than $800,000 in tax refunds, said Manny Tarango, a spokesman for the U.S. Attorney’s office.

Tanner also admitted that he and others concealed their fraud by filing the tax returns electronically using their neighbors’ unsecured wireless networks. The funds were deposited into prepaid debit card accounts that were obtained using false identities and were received by friends and associates of Tanner and the others, Tarango said.

Tanner, Latricia Williams and Gezelle Amaechi, were each indicted on Dec. 8.

Amaechi is accused of working during 2008 for an organization that provided services to disabled people, and using the identities of some of the organization’s clients in the scheme. A trial for Williams and Amaechi is set to begin Nov. 29, Tarango said.

Tanner is scheduled to be sentenced on Feb. 6, and faces a up to five years in prison and a maximum fine of $250,000.

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