Alabama prison inmate, ringleader of tax scheme from behind bars - ABC 33/40 - Birmingham News, Weather, Sports

Alabama prison inmate, ringleader of tax scheme from behind bars sentenced

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BIRMINGHAM, Ala. -- A former inmate at a Birmingham-area prison has been sentenced to more prison time for his role as the "ringleader" in a tax scheme that defrauded the government of over $788,000, US Attorney Joyce White Vance said Tuesday.

Shermaine "Shade" German, 57, was sentenced to over five years in prison and ordered to pay $788,280 in restitution. German pleaded guilty to the charges in December 2013.

German, who served time in the Donaldson Correctional Facility in Bessemer before being granted parole, orchestrated a "far-reaching" tax scheme over a five-year period beginning in January 2008 while behind bars, according to Vance.

German, who conspired with six other people from four various cities in the state, would take identity information from fellow inmates and create false income tax to use in obtaining refunds from the IRS, costing taxpayers hundreds of thousands of dollars. German also created false power of attorney forms, which he mailed out of the prison along with the false income tax returns, according to a release.

"This defendant took the identities of at least 70 fellow inmates and, from inside his cell, directed a complicated fraud that involved the submission of more than 2000 tax returns, the mailing of more than 500 false tax refund checks and a loss of hundreds of thousands of dollars to the U.S. Treasury," Vance said in a release. "Today's sentence is proof that, with our law enforcement partners, we will track identity and tax fraud wherever we find it and prosecute those responsible."
 
Details of the indictment and German's co-conspirators:
 
"From January 2008 to May 2013, while German was an inmate at Donaldson, he obtained the names, birth dates and Social Security numbers of other people, often fellow inmates, including prisoners on death row and those serving sentences of life without parole. He used their information to create false income tax returns that contained fabricated amounts of tax withholdings.

"Various other members of the conspiracy notarized the power of attorney forms and used them to cash or deposit income tax refund checks received as part of the scheme.

"The co-defendants who have pled guilty to conspiring with German in the fraud are: RONALD WEBSTER, 56, and YVETTE BERRY PINCKNEY, 49, both of Montgomery; MARLO YVETTE MILLER, 46, and IRENE KING DOUGLAS, 59, both of Huntsville; CYNTHIA DIANNE WARE, 50, of Eufaula; and BARBARA ANN GRIMES, 63, of Mobile.

"Judge Hopkins also sentenced Ware today, ordering her to serve six months in home detention as a condition of the five years' probation the court imposed. Judge Hopkins also ordered Ware to pay the government $54,605 in restitution.
 
"Miller, Pinckney, Douglas and Webster are scheduled for sentencing April 1 in Huntsville. Grimes is scheduled for sentencing April 8 in Birmingham."
 
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