Former FMCSA employee sentenced in tax refund scheme

stolen money theft fraud

A federal judge has sentenced a former Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration employee to 15 months in prison and ordered $546,785 in restitution for participating in a tax refund conspiracy.

Additionally on July 29, U.S. Judge Richard Bennett of Baltimore ordered three years of supervised release for Sheila Anderson-Cloude, 34, of Notthingham. The former FMCSA Financial Management Specialist pleaded guilty Feb. 25 for her role in a conspiracy to obtain fraudulent tax refunds.

The other scheme participants, Tonia Patrice Lawson, a 43-year-old unemployed resident of Middle River and daughters Jasmine L. Thomas, 26, of Baltimore and Kiara A. Skipwith, age 24, of Parkville, were sentenced earlier this year.

They recruited people who did not owe federal taxes because of little or no income and convinced them they could obtain substantial tax refunds. Anderson-Cloude would then receive their personal information and prepare fraudulent returns while at work at the agency.

Later, they would tell recruits the IRS had refunded less than expected. The conspirators’ profit was the difference between the actual refunds and the smaller amount paid to recruits.

Anderson-Cloude was involved in preparing at least 90 fraudulent returns for tax years 2009 through 2012, which generated more than $546,000. During 2011, she received at least $104,000 from her role in the scheme.

On June 4, Bennett sentenced Lawson to five months less of incarceration than Anderson-Cloude, but otherwise ordered equal amounts of restitution and supervised release for the two.

Earlier this year, he ordered Thomas pay $90,579 and Skipwith $199,722 in restitution and sentenced each to three years probation.