MONTGOMERY, Ala. — A Georgia woman has become the first person to plead guilty in a massive tax fraud case involving $20 million in tax returns.
Patrice Taylor, 24, of Midland, Ga., appeared in federal court Friday in Montgomery to plead guilty to one count of conspiracy to defraud the federal government.
She was one of 10 people from Alabama and Georgia charged in May in a tax fraud scheme that U.S. Attorney George Beck said was the largest ever in central Alabama. Prosecutors are seeking $20 million in restitution.
Taylor admitted that between October 2012 and January 2013, she stole about 375 identities from a credit calling center where she worked in Columbus, Ga., and supplied them to another defendant to file false tax returns seeking $189,636 in refunds. The Internal Revenue Service stopped most of the refunds, but $28,783 was paid, according to court documents.
She said another defendant promised her “easy money” of $1,000 or more a week to copy identities at work and supply them to the people preparing the fraudulent returns.
No sentencing date has been set. She faces up to 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine. She has agreed to pay $28,783 in restitution.
Others in the case are accused of stealing identities from state agencies in Montgomery and of soldiers who received their medical exams at the Fort Benning hospital in Georgia before shipping out to Afghanistan and Iraq. As part of Taylor’s plea deal, she was allowed to make it clear in court she was not involved with stealing soldiers’ IDs.
When asked whether Taylor has agreed to help the prosecution in the other cases, Prosecutor Todd Brown declined to answer and said part of her plea deal is sealed.