305 371-8101

Taxpayer Found Guilty of Filing False Claims for Refunds

U. S. v. VALIENTE,  LEXIS 17212 (11th Cir.  2010)

      The United States District Court for the Southern District of Florida convicted defendant of conspiracy to defraud the United States under 18 U.S.C. Section 286 and filing false claims against the United States under Section 287. In a separate case, defendant was convicted of making false statements on a passport application. The convictions were consolidated for sentencing purposes. Defendant appealed the convictions under sections 286 and 287.

      Defendant argued that the evidence was insufficient to support her convictions. The court found that the evidence supported the conclusion that an agreement existed between defendant and two codefendants to file fraudulent income tax returns, cash Refund Anticipation Loan (RAL) checks, and retain the illegal proceeds because defendant knew the checks she deposited into her personal account were fraudulently obtained, and the  codefendants gave defendant eight fraudulently obtained RAL checks for deposit into her personal account which she knew were tax-refund loans issued to other people. While defendant did not directly submit false claims, she conspired with and aided others in defrauding the government. Sufficient evidence supported defendant's tax fraud convictions.

    The district court did not plainly err in admitting an agent's statements about what a codefendant told her because they were not hearsay because the codefendant's plea colloquy statement that she was involved in a tax fraud conspiracy with defendant to defraud the United States was admissible as a prior inconsistent statement by a witness and as substantive evidence, under Fed. R. Evid. 801(d).

    The judgment was affirmed.

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