Local residents facing federal charges in a tax fraud case pleaded not guilty Thursday in U.S. District Court.
Jesse J. Flournoy III, 36, and Shonta Merriweather, 40, are accused of conspiracy to defraud the United States, theft by filing fraudulent documents, theft of public money by stealing tax return checks, and aggravated identity theft.
According to the indictment, the total fraud and theft was nearly $123,000.
The conspiracy ran from September 2011 through January 2012 in Columbia County, the indictment alleges. Flournoy is accused of creating fraudulent power of attorney forms that he gave to Merriweather with tax return checks to cash.
Flournoy has residences in Columbia, Augusta and Atlanta. Merriweather lives in Augusta.
A separate indictment was returned this month against Natasha Lovette, 26, of Waynesboro. She is accused of wire fraud, aggravated identity theft and access device fraud.
She is accused of collecting stolen personal information, such as birth dates and Social Security numbers, between July 2007 and July 2010 and of filing two fraudulent tax returns totaling $3,404.
She is also accused of having a list of about 80 people whose identities had been stolen that she intended to use to commit more crimes.