Tarrish Tellis, who federal prosecutors contended was the mastermind of a stolen-identity tax refund fraud scheme that defrauded the government of more than $700,000, has been found guilty on three federal charges.
A jury found the 38-year-old Montgomery resident guilty of conspiracy to commit theft of public money, theft of public money and aggravated identity theft, after a three-day trial in Montgomery, according to the Department of Justice, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Middle District of Alabama and the Internal Revenue Service.
Tellis’ co-conspirator, Nakia Jackson, obtained approximately 700 names, dates of birth and Social Security numbers from an employee of the Alabama Medicaid State Agency, according to evidence presented at his trial.
Jackson provided some of the names to Tellis, who in turn used them to file false tax returns. In exchange, Tellis taught Jackson how to file false tax returns, according to federal prosecutors.
To hide his involvement in the scheme, Tellis orchestrated a complicated method of concealing the origin of the funds, recruiting friends and relatives, including Bobby Joe Means, Delancey Tolliver, Glen Powell Jr. and Tracey Montgomery, to open up bank accounts to receive the fraudulent tax refunds, according to court testimony.
When a tax refund was deposited into their bank accounts, Tellis directed them to withdraw the money and provide it to him. He directed more than $300,000 to those accounts. Tellis took additional steps by recruiting a bank teller, Laquanta Clayton, who used her position to open up bank accounts in the name of fictitious individuals and in the name of her daughter’s father.
Tellis directed around $200,000 into the accounts that Clayton controlled. Clayton then withdrew the majority of the money to give to Tellis. Tellis also took steps to conceal his involvement in the filing of false tax returns, including filing numerous tax returns by accessing a residential wireless router that was not password protected to make it appear that the owner of the residence had filed them.
At his April 15 sentencing, Tellis faces a statutory minimum sentence of two years in prison and a statutory maximum sentence of 125 years in prison, plus fines and forfeiture.
On April 25, 2014, Jackson was sentenced to seven years and three months in prison. Clayton was sentenced on Feb. 19, 2014, to serve one year and nine months in prison. Tolliver was sentenced to serve one year and three months in prison, Powell Jr. and Means were each sentenced to serve a year and a day in prison and Montgomery was sentenced to serve six months in prison.
The case was investigated by special agents of IRS Criminal Investigation. Trial Attorneys Gregory P. Bailey, Charles M. Edgar Jr. and Michael C. Boteler of the Justice Department’s Tax Division, with the assistance of Assistant U.S. Attorney Todd Brown for the Middle District of Alabama, prosecuted the case