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Montclair Man Pleads Guilty to Tax and Identity Theft Charges

NEWS RELEASE
Internal Revenue Service - Criminal Investigation
Los Angeles Field Office
N. Dawn Mertz, Acting Special Agent in Charge

For Immediate Release:  January 29, 2013

Prepared by:      Special Agent Linda Lowery, Public Information Officer
                                               Office: (213) 576-3252
                                               Mobile: (213) 305-9859
                                               Email: linda.lowery@ci.irs.gov

Montclair Man Pleads Guilty to Tax and Identity Theft Charges

LOS ANGELES – A Montclair man, who was charged for his role in a scheme to unlawfully use the names and social security numbers of other people to file fraudulent federal income tax returns, has pleaded guilty to tax and identity theft charges.

Chibueze Chidozie Nwafor, also known as “Cheeze”, 27, of Montclair, entered his guilty plea this morning, the day his criminal trial was scheduled to begin.  Specifically, Nwafor pleaded guilty to three criminal counts – presenting false claims to the United States, theft of government benefits, and aggravated identity theft.

The charges are the result of an investigation by the Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigation.

According to the plea agreement, Nwafor used the identification of other individuals who he knew to be real people, specifically the names and social security numbers of purported tax filers, in order to submit false tax returns. Nwafor knew the information contained in the false tax returns that he filed contained materially false information, including taxes withheld and wages received from a bogus corporation, California Mutual Life and Health (“CMLH”).  During this same time period, Nwafor misappropriated tax filer refunds to which he was not entitled for his own use.

In 2009, Nwafor prepared tax returns for various individuals including a 2008 federal income tax return in the name of an unidentified victim claiming a tax refund of $7,773.  Similar to other tax refunds filed by Nwafor, this federal income tax return included a Form W-2 which falsely claimed that the unidentified victim received $30,119 in wages from CMLH.  Subsequent to the filing of this fraudulent return, the IRS issued a tax refund which Nwafor stole and converted to his own use.

For the 2010 tax year, Nwafor filed a fraudulent tax return on his own behalf claiming false deductions, which resulted in Nwafor receiving a Treasury check in the amount of $32,789 from the IRS.

The minimum amount of the attempted tax loss attributable to Nwafor from 2009 through 2011 is approximately $126,991.    

As a result of today’s guilty plea, Nwafor faces a statutory maximum sentence of 15 years in federal prison and a fine of at least $750,000 when sentenced by United States District Judge Otis D. Wright, II on April 29, 2013.  The charge of aggravated identity theft carries a mandatory term of at least two years.  

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United States Attorney’s Office contact:
               Assistant United States Attorney
               Nicholas A. Pilgrim
               (213) 894-6968

Page Last Reviewed or Updated: 23-Oct-2014