Former IRS employee sentenced to 4.5 years in prison for scheme to defraud IRS and commit identity theft


Date: May 8, 2023


Fresno, CA — Deena Vang Lee, of Fresno, was sentenced today to four years and six months in prison and ordered to pay $191,597 in restitution following her convictions for preparing and filing false tax returns for other individuals, underreporting her own taxable income on her personal tax returns, and committing wire fraud and aggravated identity theft, U.S. Attorney Phillip A. Talbert announced.

On Jan. 26, 2023, after a three-day trial, a jury found Lee guilty of 13 felony counts, including three counts of wire fraud, two counts of aggravated identity theft, five counts of preparing and presenting false and fraudulent returns, and three counts of making and subscribing a false and fraudulent tax return.

According to evidence presented at trial, from 2012 through 2016, Lee, in her role as a tax preparer, put materially false information on customers' tax returns without their knowledge or consent and submitted the returns to the IRS. As part of the scheme, Lee obtained the identification of multiple individuals and falsely listed these individuals as child care providers on multiple customers' tax returns without their knowledge or consent.

Lee also underreported her own income related to the payments she received for tax preparation services on her personal tax returns for tax years 2013, 2014, and 2015.

"This defendant was familiar with the tax laws and purposefully defrauded the United States, and even after overwhelming evidence was presented to the jury, she continued to deny her conduct," said U.S. Attorney Talbert. "The repeated fraud, substantial loss, and need for deterrence justify today's prison sentence. The U.S. Attorney's Office will continue to work with the Internal Revenue Service, Criminal Investigation (IRS-CI) and the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA) to use all lawful means to identify and prosecute unscrupulous tax preparers like this defendant."

"IRS Criminal Investigation is sworn to protect the tax system, and that includes uprooting unscrupulous tax return preparers and bad actors from within the agency," said Darren Lian, Special Agent in Charge with IRS Criminal Investigation's Oakland Field Office. "The sentence handed down today shows the seriousness of the defendant's conduct and we will remain vigilant in identifying and investigating those who seek to defraud honest and hardworking American taxpayers."

"Taxpayers put trust in tax preparers to prepare their tax returns in accordance with the law. It is unacceptable for tax preparers to break this confidence by submitting fraudulent returns in their clients' names," said J. Russell George, the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration. "The Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration is committed to bringing to justice tax preparers who betray their clients' trust for their personal gain."

This case was the product of an investigation by the IRS-CI and TIGTA. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Alex Dempsey and Henry Carbajal prosecuted the case.