Anchorage, Alaska – Acting U.S. Attorney Bryan Schroder announced today that Jesse Scott Wilson, 41, was sentenced by U.S. District Judge Sharon Gleason to a total of 92 months in prison, followed by three years’ supervised release. Wilson had pled guilty to conspiracy to defraud the government with respect to tax refund claims on Feb. 26, 2016. In addition to his prison sentence, Wilson was ordered to pay restitution in the amount of $384,892.
Wilson was convicted of participating in a conspiracy to obtain tax refunds by filing fraudulent income tax returns. Between September 2008 and June 2012, Wilson and his co-conspirators prepared and submitted approximately 428 false tax returns claiming refunds of approximately $681,258.
At the sentencing hearing, U.S. District Judge Sharon Gleason pointed out the need for the sentence to address the severity of the crime and deter others in prison from committing similar crimes. Court documents revealed that Wilson conspired with his co-defendants and fellow prison inmates William Wesley Hines, aka Speedy, 54, Jason Donald Schmidlkofer, 34, and Nick Lewis Thurmond, 30, to obtain the names and social security numbers (SSNs) of individuals, many of whom were also inmates at correctional facilities. Wilson, Hines, Schmidlkofer, and Thurmond were State of Alaska prisoners who were incarcerated together at Red Rock Correctional Center in Eloy, Arizona, at the beginning of the conspiracy. Wilson and his co-conspirators prepared and filed false individual income tax returns using the names and SSNs of approximately 210 individuals. Wilson and his co-conspirators prepared false individual income tax returns claiming false wages and withholding amounts listed on the tax returns for which there were no Forms W-2 issued. Each return claimed that the taxpayer was owed thousands of dollars in refunds to which they were not entitled. The conspirators forged the individuals’ signatures on the tax returns and used their own personal addresses and fake addresses on the tax returns. The conspirators mailed the false income tax returns to the IRS. Wilson and his co-conspirators retained a portion of the money from the refunds, and then wired or mailed the remainder of the refunds to other co-conspirators.
Wilson, Hines, and Schmidlkofer are residents of Alaska. Thurmond is currently a resident of Colorado. Wilson, Hines, Schmidlkofer, and Thurmond were indicted by a federal grand jury in December 2015 for conspiracy to defraud the government with respect to false claims. Their current status is as follows:
This investigation was an expansion of another prisoner tax refund scheme investigation involving Steven McComb, Michael Sexton, Paulando Williams, and Helen Maloney. Those defendants all pled guilty and were sentenced as follows:
“The vast majority of Americans work hard and pay their taxes. A scheme to defraud the IRS like this takes money from all legitimate taxpayers,” stated Acting U.S. Attorney Bryan Schroder. “Plus, this scheme used identity theft as its vehicle. In the modern electronic age, identity theft rightly concerns all citizens. The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Alaska, along with our law enforcement partners, is dedicated to protecting the earnings of hard-working Alaskans from fraud and theft.”
“For IRS Criminal Investigation, identity theft is a top priority which we will diligently pursue no matter where it hides. This investigation shows that this particular crime knows no boundaries as the victims of this fraud scheme were inmates in a correctional facility, a fact that makes this scheme especially troublesome,” stated Special Agent in Charge Darrell Waldon of IRS Criminal Investigation. “We warn all people everywhere to safeguard their private information and beware those would-be identity thieves are constantly lurking and looking for victims.”
Mr. Schroder commends the Internal Revenue Service, Criminal Investigation, State of Alaska Department of Corrections, and the Colorado Department of Corrections Office of the Inspector General for the successful investigation and prosecution of this case.