Bronx Group Charged in Tax Refund Scheme and Threatening IRS Agents

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Four people associated with a Bronx tax preparation business have been charged with participating in a scheme to file fraudulent federal income tax returns using the identities of others and one has been accused of threatening IRS agents.

Shamel Charles, Charles Patterson, Nekiya Edwards, and Akmell Edwards were charged with participating in the tax scheme, causing the United States to pay more than $200,000 in false refunds. Some of the identities used had been stolen, according to the IRS and federal prosecutors.

Patterson was also charged with threatening agents of the IRS’s Criminal Investigation Division in connection with the investigation. The defendants were arrested Tuesday morning.

According to an indictment unsealed Tuesday in Manhattan federal court, Charles prepared tax returns at a tax preparation business called "420 Multiservices" in Bronx, N.Y., in 2006. Between 2006 and 2007, Charles, 34, Patterson, 29, Nekiya Edwards, 32, and Akmell Edwards, 33, engaged in a scheme to use stolen and other identification information, including names, dates of birth, and Social Security numbers, to file fraudulent tax returns.

The defendants included, among other things, fake dependents, deductions, and expenses on the fraudulent tax returns that they submitted to the IRS. The defendants then opened and maintained bank accounts in their own names and directed the IRS to send the refunds to those bank accounts. They subsequently withdrew the refund proceeds in cash, and distributed the funds among the members of the conspiracy for their own uses. In total, the defendants filed approximately 25 false tax returns, resulting in the payment ofover $200,000 in fraudulent refunds.

According to the indictment, in March 2008, Patterson was approached by agents of the IRS-CID. During that encounter, Patterson threatened the agents, stating, among other things, "I know you guys got guns, so what," and "That’s why I kill guys like you."

The defendants are each charged with one count of conspiring to defraud the United States with respect to false and fraudulent claims, which carries a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison, and a maximum fine of the greatest of $250,000, or twice the pecuniary loss or gain derived from the offense. The Indictment also charges Charles and Patterson with four counts, Nekiya Edwards with three counts, and Akmell Edwards with two counts of making and presenting false and fraudulent claims against the United States, each of which carries a maximum sentence of five years in prison, and a maximum fine of the greatest of $250,000, or twice the pecuniary loss or gain derived from the offense.

In addition, Patterson is charged with attempting to intimidate and impede United States officers and employees through threats of force, which carries a maximum sentence of one year, and a maximum fine of $100,000.

An $80,000 personal recognizance bond has been posted for each of them, according to IRS spokesman Joseph Foy.

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