Three Bay Area Defendants Charged In False Tax Refund Schemes

SAN FRANCISCO – Carol Bryant,  AKA Carol Lawson, Mark Russell, and Anyssa Hall were charged with conspiracy to file false claims, wire fraud, theft of public money, aiding and abetting, and aggravated identity theft announced Acting United States Attorney Brian J. Stretch and Internal Revenue Service, Criminal Investigation, Acting Special Agent in Charge Thomas McMahon.

According to the indictment, beginning on January 9, 2009, through May 4, 2013, Mark Russell and Anyssa Hall, both of Richmond, and Carol Bryant, of San Pablo, conspired to defraud the Internal Revenue Service (IRS).  As part of the scheme, the defendants and others procured the names and identities of individual taxpayers through illegal means or by agreement as participants in the scheme.  Using the names and identities, the defendants filed, or helped others file, false federal income tax returns with the IRS.  These federal income tax returns falsely reported that the individual taxpayers earned wages in amounts specified on fictitious Forms W-2 that were filed with the false federal income tax returns.  The federal income tax returns falsely reported that taxes had been withheld by employers and falsely claimed refunds from the IRS that the taxpayers were not entitled to receive.  The defendants and other co-conspirators requested that the IRS transmit the fraudulent refunds into bank accounts they controlled and that were linked to debit cards they used to access the fraudulent refunds. 

All three defendants were charged with conspiracy.  Bryant was also charged with two counts of theft of government property, wire fraud, and two counts of aggravated identity theft.  Russell was also charged with two counts of wire fraud and two counts of aggravated identity theft.  Hall was also charged with theft of government property.

Russell and Bryant were arrested on November 2, 2015, and made their initial appearance before the Honorable Kandis Westmore, U.S. Magistrate Judge, in Oakland on November 4, 2015. Both Russell and Bryant are scheduled to appear before the Honorable Yvonne Gonzalez-Rogers on December 3, 2015, at 3:00 p.m. in the Oakland Federal Building.  Hall currently is a fugitive.

An indictment merely alleges that crimes have been committed, and all defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.   The maximum sentence for conspiracy to file false claims, in violation of 18 U.S.C § 286, is 10 years in prison and a fine of $250,000. The maximum penalty for theft of public money, in violation of Title 18, U.S.C § 641, is 10 years in prison and a fine of $250,000.  The maximum penalty for wire fraud, in violation of Title 18, U.S.C § 1343, is 20 years in prison and a fine of $250,000.  The maximum penalty for each count of identity fraud, in violation of a Title 18, U.S.C § 1028A, is two years in prison, consecutive to the underlying felony and a fine of $250,000.  However, any sentence following conviction would be imposed by the court after consideration of the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and the federal statute governing the imposition of a sentence, 18 U.S.C. § 3553. 

Assistant U.S. Attorney Cynthia Stier is prosecuting this case.  The prosecution is the result of an investigation by the Internal Revenue Service, Criminal Investigation. 

 

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