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20 Bulloch residents charged in tax fraud scheme
BALDWIN ERICA REBECCA
Erica Rebecca Baldwin

The following 12 are federal defendants, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office:
- Erica Baldwin, 31, of Statesboro
- Tracy Denson, 44, of Statesboro
- Shakita Eason, 30, of Statesboro
- Yolanda Edmond, 36, of Statesboro
- Gloria Evans, 44, of Statesboro
- Joshua Mincey, 20, of Statesboro
- Porsche Pinkney, 19, of Augusta
- Dwan Scott, 32, of Statesboro
- Jenna Scott, 28, of Jacksonville, Fla.
- Gregory Smith, 21, of Statesboro
- Tidaesha Taylor, 27, of College Park, Ga.
- Andrea Webb, 31, of Register

The following 11 are listed on state arrest warrants, the U.S. Attorney's Office said:
- Santravis Jerrod Brown, 23, of Statesboro
- Reginald Raynard Ellison, 29, of Statesboro
- Sanchez Ortega Harden, 28, of Statesboro
- Chrystal N. Harlie, 32, of Statesboro
- Victoria Quinn Johnson (Baldwin), 28, of Statesboro
- Sean Lee, 34, of Statesboro
- Myron Kelsey Rawls, 30, of Statesboro
- Vera Richmond, 69, of Statesboro
- Lanika Loyonda Walden (Mincey), 37, of Statesboro
- Melissa Shantel Whitfield, 33, of Statesboro
- Lasharett Genet Wilkerson, 30, of Statesboro

 

 

Four suspects remained at large Wednesday evening after arrest warrants were issued for 23 people, including 20 from Bulloch County, on federal tax fraud charges.

The arrests followed a months-long investigation regarding fraudulent tax returns, the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Southern District of Georgia said in a news release.

The roundup occurred after a federal grand jury in Savannah returned six indictments Tuesday charging 12 defendants with 115 violations of federal law involving fraudulent tax returns. The federal crimes charged in these indictments range from a conspiracy to defraud the Internal Revenue Service to identity theft from medical records, according to the release.

All of these indictments allege that the defendants illicitly obtained personal identifiers, such as names, dates of birth and Social Security numbers, and used them to prepare and submit fraudulent tax returns to obtain tax refunds, the release says.

Other individuals arrested Wednesday are from Augusta; College Park, Ga.; and Jacksonville, Fla.

"These indictments and arrests demonstrate the commitment of the United States Attorney's Office to protecting the privacy of medical records and the hard-earned money of honest taxpayers," United States Attorney Edward J. Tarver said in the news release. "While April 15th is traditionally seen as the end of tax season, this investigation is ongoing. Our law enforcement partners will continue to trace electronically filed fraudulent tax returns to track down these identity thieves and put them in handcuffs."

These arrests are part of the same long-term investigation that led to multiple search warrants being executed in Statesboro in September. Initial federal court appearances for the federally indicted defendants who were arrested in Statesboro are scheduled for Thursday in Savannah.

"Today's announcement exemplifies IRS Criminal Investigation's intense focus and rigorous pursuit of perpetrators of identity theft and refund fraud," IRS Criminal Investigation Special Agent in Charge Veronica Hyman-Pillot said. "IRS is extremely grateful for the cooperation and assistance we have received from our partners at the local, state and federal level. Be assured that IRS Criminal Investigation, with our law enforcement partners, will continue to be proactive in the investigation of those individuals who engage in similar behavior."

If convicted, each federal defendant faces a maximum penalty of 20 years imprisonment for the conspiracy charge, 20 years imprisonment for each count of filing fraudulent tax returns, 10 years imprisonment for the charge of misusing medical records, and a two-year mandatory, consecutive prison sentence for each charge of aggravated identity theft. Each of these charges also carries a fine of up to $250,000.

"Today's extensive joint law enforcement actions resulting in almost two dozen arrests demonstrates the growing problem involving tax refund related fraud and, more importantly, the growing law enforcement response to address it," said Mark F. Giuliano, special agent in charge for the FBI's Atlanta Field Office. "The FBI will continue to work with its various law enforcement partners, to include providing additional resources, to disrupt such groups engaged in these types of tax fraud activities."

FBI Special Agent Marcus Kirkland, IRS Special Agent Gwen Weston, and Statesboro police Detective Sgt. James Winskey, assisted by their agencies' colleagues, are conducting the investigation that led to these indictments and arrests.

"The Statesboro Police Department has been working with our local and federal counterparts to apprehend the persons responsible for defrauding the government and individuals through a variety of criminal schemes," Statesboro Director of Public Safety Wendell Turner said. "We are very proud of these partnerships and the results they yield for our citizens. This investigation is just another example of everyone working together, sharing resources, information and expertise for the common good of our community."

Also assisting in Wednesday's arrests are the U.S. Secret Service, Georgia Bureau of Investigation, Georgia State Probation Office and the sheriff's offices for Bulloch and Richmond counties. Assistant U.S. attorneys David Stewart and Lamont A. Belk are the federal prosecutors in these cases.

The following 12 are federal defendants, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office:
- Erica Baldwin, 31, of Statesboro
- Tracy Denson, 44, of Statesboro
- Shakita Eason, 30, of Statesboro
- Yolanda Edmond, 36, of Statesboro
- Gloria Evans, 44, of Statesboro
- Joshua Mincey, 20, of Statesboro
- Porsche Pinkney, 19, of Augusta
- Dwan Scott, 32, of Statesboro
- Jenna Scott, 28, of Jacksonville, Fla.
- Gregory Smith, 21, of Statesboro
- Tidaesha Taylor, 27, of College Park, Ga.
- Andrea Webb, 31, of Register

The following 11 are listed on state arrest warrants, the U.S. Attorney's Office said:
- Santravis Jerrod Brown, 23, of Statesboro
- Reginald Raynard Ellison, 29, of Statesboro
- Sanchez Ortega Harden, 28, of Statesboro
- Chrystal N. Harlie, 32, of Statesboro
- Victoria Quinn Johnson (Baldwin), 28, of Statesboro
- Sean Lee, 34, of Statesboro
- Myron Kelsey Rawls, 30, of Statesboro
- Vera Richmond, 69, of Statesboro
- Lanika Loyonda Walden (Mincey), 37, of Statesboro
- Melissa Shantel Whitfield, 33, of Statesboro
- Lasharett Genet Wilkerson, 30, of Statesboro.

As of Thursday evening, the Bulloch County Jail reported that only Rawls, Jenna Scott, Brown and Taylor remained at large. Anyone with information on these suspects is asked to contact Winskey at (912) 764-9911.

Staff Writer Holli Deal Bragg contributed to this report.

 

 

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