Marion woman sentenced federally

Published 12:00 am Saturday, February 5, 2005

A Marion woman has been sent to federal prison for participating in a tax fraud scheme designed to bilk the U.S. Treasury out of hundreds of thousands of dollars.

According to a public statement made Thursday by the U.S. Department of Justice, Janice Ford, 37, of Marion was sentenced by U.S. District Court Judge William Steele to two and a half years in a federal penitentiary, beginning in December 2004.

Ford and her sister, Tamera Mayo, 31, of Selma, were found guilty of filing dozens of false federal income tax returns with the Internal Revenue Service. The returns allowed Ford and Mayo to collect thousands of dollars in tax refund checks from the IRS before their scheme was discovered by law enforcement officials.

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According to the U.S. Department of Justice statement, Ford and May spent more than a year purchasing and collecting other individuals’ personal tax return information, such as social security numbers or names of dependents.

The tax returns, read the statement, were then “prepared…from photocopies of [one] mostly completed tax return. The only information they had to add were the names, addresses, social security numbers, dependent information, forged signatures, and dates.” The U.S. Department of Justice stated that many of those whose names and social security information were used had no knowledge of the extra tax returns being filed in their name.

Ford and Mayo had acquired the use of six different post office boxes to use in the receiving of their fraudulent refund checks. Those six boxes soon filled with cash, to the tune of more than $37,000 in stolen government money before Ford and Mayo were caught.

A full investigation revealed that had Ford and Mayo’s conspiracy succeeded, they would have walked away with over $300,000 worth of refund checks.

Further details of the investigation process are currently unavailable, as the U.S. Attorney’s office in Mobile had yet to return calls as of press time.

Mayo was sentenced to serve 21 months in federal prison for once count of conspiracy to file false claims with the IRS. She was also ordered to pay back $37,207 to the U.S. Treasury.