An Internal Revenue Service employee who also prepared taxes on the side has been charged with tax fraud and aggravated identity theft.
Sherelle Pratt, 49, of Philadelphia, was charged by an indictment, unsealed Tuesday, with filing false tax returns, aiding and assisting other individuals in preparing and filing false tax returns, theft of government property, and aggravated identity theft, according to the office of U.S. Attorney Zane David Memeger. Pratt was arrested Tuesday.
Pratt is an IRS contact center representative who allegedly prepared federal income tax returns for a number of individuals from tax years 2006 through 2008. She caused the refunds, and stimulus payments that the filers were supposed to receive, to be deposited into her personal bank account, according to prosecutors. In some cases, she gave the filers a portion of the refunds and stimulus payments. In other instances, according to the indictment, Pratt kept the refund and stimulus payments.
She allegedly stole nearly $29,000 in tax refunds intended for nine tax clients, according to the Philadelphia Inquirer. She also allegedly filed for a $3,524 tax refund in another client's name without telling him.
If convicted, Pratt faces up to 33 years in prison, including a two-year minimum mandatory sentence, a fine of up to $2.25 million, a special assessment of $900, and two years of supervised release.
The case was investigated by the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration, Philadelphia Field Office and the IRS’s Criminal Investigation unit and is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Floyd J. Miller. They began investigating her in 2009 when the father of one of her clients became suspicious about a missing tax refund and stimulus check.
An indictment, information or criminal complaint is an accusation, Memeger’s office noted, and a defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.