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IRS investigator from Alabama charged with fraud, identity theft in agency’s latest scandal

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WASHINGTON — An IRS agent from Alabama and his accomplice have been indicted for fraud and identity theft, resulting in thirty charges between the two men for conspiring to file fake tax returns. The indictments are the latest in a string of scandals to rock the agency responsible for collecting federal taxes and enforcing Obamacare.

The IRS agent, 32 year-old Donald Centreal Smith of Birmingham, and his accomplice, 33 year-old Gary G. Collins of Odenville, each face one count of conspiracy, nine counts of filing false or fraudulent claims, two counts of theft of public monies, nine counts of wire fraud, and nine counts of aggravated identity theft.

An employee of the agency’s criminal division since 2007, Smith allegedly opened two Regions Bank accounts with Collins in 2012.

According to the indictment, “[m]ost of the personal identification information contained in these false and fraudulent tax returns [i.e., names, dates of birth, and social security numbers], came into Smith’s possession by virtue of his employment as an IRS CI [criminal investigations] Special Agent.”

“More specifically,” the indictment says, “much of the personal identification information that Smith and Collins used to prepare and electronically file the false income tax returns was obtained by Smith several years earlier, through two criminal investigations that Smith conducted and prosecuted in his capacity as a Special Agent.”

Before they were detected, the two men received $5,672.94 from three tax return refunds, though they filed for $31,882.00.

“The IRS will continue to aggressively pursue those who use stolen social security numbers to file false tax returns,” said IRS Criminal Investigation Special Agent in Charge Jerome McDuffie in a press release. “The indictment returned against Mr. Smith and Mr. Collins serves as a reminder that those who defraud innocent people and steal government funds will be held accountable. Mr. Smith used his position and access as an IRS employee to perpetrate this fraudulent scheme. Our agency will continue to work closely with the United States Attorney’s Office to hold individuals, particularly those in positions of public trust, responsible for their illegal activities.”

“[A]llegations of aggravated identity theft committed by an IRS employee who bears the responsibility for protecting taxpayers from such crimes are particularly reprehensible” said Melissa Chedotal, Special Agent in Charge for the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration’s Atlanta Field Division. “TIGTA will aggressively investigate any and all allegations of IRS employees victimizing taxpayers for their own personal gain.”

The case will be prosecuted by Donna B. Dobbins of the United States Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Alabama, and Smith will be defended by Federal Public Defender Kevin Butler.

This is the second time in recent years that an IRS scandal has hit home in Alabama. In 2013, an Alabama Tea Party group was among the dozens of conservative organizations targeted for additional scrutiny by the IRS when they filed for non-profit status.

(H/T AL.com)


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