NASHVILLE - A former Tennessee prison inmate has pleaded guilty to defrauding the federal government of $58,651.80 by filing false tax returns claiming refunds on behalf of fellow inmates, Justice Department and IRS officials announced today.
Walter Allen "Beau" Johnson had been charged with conspiracy to defraud the federal government by filing false claims as well as 11 counts of filing false claims against the United States, according to a joint news release from the agencies. A sentencing date has not been set. He could up to 65 years in prison and maximum fines of $3 million, officials said.
According to charging documents, the actions took place while Johnson was incarcerated in state prison from February 2006 to January 2007. Officials said Johnson and other inmates he recruited collected Social Security numbers from fellow inmates. He and "co-conspirators" then used the numbers to file false income tax returns with the IRS in the name of the inmates, claiming refunds to which they were not entitled, officials said. An estimated 88 false returns were filed.
The case is being prosecuted by Tax Division trial attorneys Michelle M. Petersen and Kathryn B. Ward. The case was investigated by the IRS-Criminal Investigation Division.