6 arrested in $6.8 million prison tax refund scheme

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Five people were arrested on Tax Day for allegedly filing fake federal income tax refunds that would have netted over $6 million. A sixth person was arrested Friday.

According to the Department of Justice, Laura Wright, 70, Tiffani Manning, 30, Silvester Bowens, 48, Christopher Wyant, 38, and Tabatha Dubois, 33, were all arrested on April 15. Chad R. Heins was arrested Friday.

Heins, Manning, Bowens and Dubois all face charges of theft of public money and aiding and abetting the theft of public money.

According to the indictment, the people who were arrested combined and conspired with each other and inmates Ronald Rodgers, a/k/a "Ronnie" and "Arthur Pellerin," John Wright and others to defraud the Internal Revenue Service by getting paid from fake income tax returns.

The expected income tax refunds ranged between $5,762 and $24,794. The fake tax refunds were allegedly set to be deposited via direct deposit, into several accounts opened and controlled by some of the conspirators, including Heins, Manning, Bowens and Dubois. The intended losses totaled approximately $6.8 million.

The case was investigated by The Internal Revenue Service - Criminal Investigation and the Florida Department of Corrections.

If convicted of the conspiracy charge, each person faces a maximum penalty of 10 years in federal prison.


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