A federal grand jury in New York has indicted four people in a scheme to claim false income tax refunds using the identities of clients of two New York City agencies.

The 18-count indictment charged Odell Folks of Brooklyn, Sharon Smith of the Bronx, Tanya Smith of Waterbury, Conn., and Keith Terry of Dallas, Ga., with conspiracy to file false claims for refund in the form of false income tax returns. According to the indictment, between approximately May 1, 2003, and Feb. 28, 2005, Folks and Sharon Smith submitted false income tax returns to the IRS in the names of clients of the New York City Human Resources Administration and the Center for Employment Opportunities.

HRA offers a wide range of social service programs to individuals receiving public assistance. CEO provides comprehensive employment services for persons with criminal records, including temporary jobs for individuals recently released from prison. Both Folks and Sharon Smith were employed as job counselors at CEO.

The indictment alleges that the Treasury issued income tax refund checks to false addresses provided by the team, and that Folks and other members of the team obtained and cashed the refund checks. The indictment also states that Tanya Smith and Keith Terry used their bank accounts to cash some of those checks.

Folks was charged with eight counts of mail fraud, five counts of presenting false claims, and three counts of making and subscribing false income tax returns. Sharon Smith was charged with seven counts of mail fraud and five counts of presenting false claims. Terry was charged with five counts of presenting false claims and one count of making and subscribing a false income tax return.

If convicted, the defendants face a maximum penalty of 10 years' imprisonment and a $250,000 fine for the false claims charge; five years' imprisonment and a $250,000 fine per count for the presenting false claims charge; 20 years' imprisonment and a $250,000 fine per count for mail fraud; and three years' imprisonment and up to a $250,000 fine for making or subscribing a false tax return.

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