Former Fresno IRS employee sentenced to six years in prison for wire fraud, aggravated identity theft, and tax fraud


Date: December 3, 2020


Fresno, CA — A former employee of the IRS working in Fresno was sentenced today to six years in prison for a scheme to receive tax refunds by filing false tax returns using the stolen identities of at-risk youths.

On December 12, 2019, a federal jury found Marcela Heredia, of Riverside, guilty of seven counts of wire fraud, four counts of aggravated identity theft, and one count of making a false tax return.

"The IRS along with TIGTA uses all its investigative tools to uncover fraud when committed by the public or in this case an IRS employee," said Kareem Carter, Special Agent in Charge of the Oakland Field Office, IRS-CI. "Heredia's fraud scheme harmed the United States Government and members of the local community. Today's sentencing should send a positive message to the American taxpayers that IRS employees are held to a high standard when working in a public position in order to safeguard and instill trust in the U.S. tax system."

According to court documents and evidence introduced at trial, until 2014, Heredia worked at the Fresno Economic Opportunities Commission's Transitional Living Center. Heredia also worked at the IRS as a Tax Examiner between 2008 and 2014. While working at the Transitional Living Center, Heredia stole residents' personal identifying information and filed numerous tax returns that included false wage and withholding information, false educational expenses, false dependent claims, and others false claims. Heredia directed the refunds for those returns to her personal bank account, spending the money on various personal expenses. Heredia failed to report any of the refund money she directed into her account on her 2011 tax return.

Many of the residents at the Transitional Living Center whose personal identifying information Heredia stole in order to file false tax returns were young, at-risk adults. Many were former foster children who had aged out of foster care, many were homeless and had nowhere else to go.

This case was the product of an investigation by IRS Criminal Investigation and the U.S. Department of the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Laura D. Withers and Vincente A. Tennerelli prosecuted the case.