FRESNO, Calif. (CN) — An IRS employee stole $20,000 in tax refunds from people in a homeless shelter, and she’s not the only crooked IRS worker in California, federal prosecutors say.
Just in time for Tax Day, federal prosecutors charged three California women with filing false tax returns — two of them IRS agents.
Heredia and Pringle worked for the IRS when they committed their frauds, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.
Heredia is accused of taking at least $20,000 in tax refunds that should have gone to the homeless people who lived at the transitional home where she worked. She also worked as an IRS examiner at the time, in the Fresno office. From 2009 until 2014 she worked at a transitional home for young adults, whose Social Security numbers and other personal identification were kept on file. Many of the residents were former foster children who had just become, legally, adults.
The grand jury found that Heredia persuaded residents to give her their personal information under the guise of preparing tax returns for them. Then she told them they did not make enough money to file a return, filed one on their behalf without their knowledge and had the refunds sent to her own bank account.
The other two indictments contain similar allegations.
Prosecutors say Pringle increased refunds on four people’s tax returns by claiming expenses they had not incurred, including those for child care. In reality, the child care providers she listed on the returns were herself or her children. Pringle worked for the IRS in Fresno from 2000 to 2015 as a contact representative, answering taxpayers’ questions “and making adjustments to the taxpayers’ accounts,” according to her indictment.
Bedolla did not work for the IRS. She ran her own tax-preparation service in Porterville. She is charged with 16 counts of aiding and assisting the preparation of a false tax return.
She is accused of fabricating deductions and expenses on her customers’ federal tax returns without their knowledge to increase their returns. She was busted by an undercover agent posing as a customer. Her indictment does not state how, if at all, Bedolla profited personally from this, but it says her false statements caused the IRS to issue more than $100,000 in improper refunds and credits.
If convicted, all three women face a $250,000 fine and prison: up to 25 years for Heredia, 8 years for Pringle, and 5 years for Bedolla, according to the U.S. attorney.