HOUSTON – The final person has been convicted in an eight-defendant conspiracy in which fraudulent tax returns were filed using identification information that was stolen and used without lawful authority, announced U.S. Attorney Kenneth Magidson. Edward Dwayne Vallier, 42, of Houston, entered his guilty plea to wire fraud and conspiracy to commit mail fraud this morning.
According to court records, Vallier was a U.S. Postal Service carrier in Houston that was recruited by co-conspirator Jalan Willingham, 35, of Houston, in October 2012, in order to aid and abet the conspirators in carrying out their scheme. Vallier was to provide fictitious addresses on his postal route where the false returns would be mailed. The tax refunds generated by the fraudulent returns were often deposited onto reloadable debit cards and mailed to addresses under Vallier’s control. He would then retrieve the debit cards with the fraudulent returns on them from his route and turn it over to the co-conspirators.
From 2010 through 2013, the co-conspirators used the stolen personal identifying information to file thousands of fraudulent tax returns claiming more than $12 million in refunds. According to IRS records, the National Treasury paid out more than over $6 million before the scheme was discovered.
Willingham previously pleaded guilty for his role in the scheme as did Travis White, 32, also of Houston; Kerry Lionel Ruffin, 32, Calvin Shelton, 39, and Shawn Phillip Thornton, 37, all of Atlanta, Ga.; and Tangela R Jackson-Lezeau, 36, of Port Saint Lucie, Fla. The case against the eighth defendant – Dwayne Biggs, 29, of Atlanta, Ga. – was transferred to another jurisdiction for final adjudication.
United States District Judge Keith P. Ellison, who accepted the plea today, has set sentencing for July 1, 2015. At that time, Vallier faces up to 20 years in federal prison and a maximum $250,000 fine. The remaining defendants will also be sentenced on that date.
The matter was investigated by the U.S. Postal Inspection Service and Internal Revenue Service – Criminal Investigation. Assistant U.S. Attorney Suzanne Elmilady is prosecuting the case