LOS ANGELES – A Lancaster man has been sentenced to more than four years in prison for his part in a scheme that claimed tax refunds using names and social security numbers stolen from a local welfare office.
Thomas “T-Mac” Marshall, 37, was sentenced in federal court Monday to 57 months in prison, three years of supervised release and ordered to pay more than $1.2 million in restitution to the Internal Revenue Service, according to federal court records.
Investigators said Marshall received names and social security numbers stolen from the Los Angeles County Department of Public Social Services (DPSS) computer system and then used the information to file fraudulent tax returns, falsely claiming a First Time Homebuyer Tax Credit and earning himself as much as $8,000 per return.
Marshall obtained the stolen identities from his wife, 36-year-old Veronica Niko, who used to work as a receptionist in the Lancaster office of DPSS. As a receptionist, Niko was a contact person for individuals coming into the county office to apply for aid and had access to the names and social security numbers of a large number of people who applied for or received certain types of State-administered public assistance.
The names and social security numbers of 64 different individuals, whose profiles Niko obtained from the county’s computer system, were used to file 65 fraudulent tax returns through tax year 2011, causing an actual loss to the IRS of $357,704.90.
Marshall admitted to his role in the tax scheme, pleaded guilty in November to conspiracy to submit false claims to the IRS. His wife, Niko, also pleaded guilty this past January to one count of transfer/use of means of identification to commit an unlawful activity. A sentencing hearing for Niko is scheduled for June 10, 2013, at which time Niko will face a statutory maximum sentence of 15 years in federal prison.
The husband and wife were two of five people prosecuted in the tax scheme.
Mao Niko, 40, of Lynwood pleaded guilty to a single count of conspiracy to submit false claims to the IRS and was sentenced this week to 24 months in prison and ordered to pay $285,101 in restitution, according to court records. The two remaining defendants, Mike Niko, 34, of Los Angeles, and Michael Williams, 42, of Palmdale, are each facing a charge of conspiracy to submit false claims to the IRS. Their cases are still pending.
The investigation was conducted by special agents with the IRS – Criminal Investigation.
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