by Sam Levin
Tania Henderson, a 28-year-old woman who now lives in Florida, was sentenced yesterday in St. Louis for her role in leading a stolen-identity tax fraud scheme last year.
In addition to a twelve-year prison sentence, the woman must also repay the IRS $835,883 in restitution, officials announced.
Henderson stole the identities of more than 400 individuals, according to her plea agreement.
Many of them were dead.
Henderson, who was most recently living in Wesley Chapel, Florida, pleaded guilty in April to one count of theft of government funds and four counts of aggravated identity theft.
As we reported last year, the feds first learned of this scheme when another woman who Henderson was apparently conspiring with got caught trying to cash a bogus tax return check.
Patrina Taylor of Creve Coeur had walked into a credit union and tried to deposit an IRS tax-refund check worth about $7,500 into her own account, authorities reported last year. The check was made out to a woman named "Ann Hoang," and though she had a phony driver's license, the bank apparently determined this was a fake.
Soon after, investigation also revealed that Hoang was dead.
She was prosecuted and sentenced along with two other accomplices Betty Kirkendoll and Jason Bibbs.
A news release announcing the sentencing yesterday outlines Henderson's actions:
Between August and November 2012, Henderson filed 236 fraudulent tax returns from her home in Florida. Using a network of family and friends, she would collect refund checks or prepaid debit cards for the refund amounts and liquidate the proceeds of her scheme."Stealing identities and filing false tax returns is a serious crime that hurts innocent taxpayers," Sybil Smith, special agent in charge of IRS criminal investigation, says in a statement. "Today's sentence should serve as a strong warning to those who are considering similar conduct."
Henderson had filed tax returns calling for more than $1.8 million dollars, but the IRS, officials say, was able to intercept nearly $1,000,000 in refunds before they reached the woman. Meanwhile, the woman's husband, Dwayne Denard Johnson, who also lives in Florida, has been indicted for theft of government funds and aggravated identity theft. He is awaiting trial in the Eastern District of Missouri.
Here's a local news report from the woman's Florida neighborhood after she was busted last year.