Boone County Couple Admits Tax Refund Fraud

by Gwen Moritz  on Wednesday, Jun. 5, 2013 10:37 am  

A Boone County couple pleaded guilty in federal court Tuesday to using Turbo Tax software to steal more than $132,000 in fraudulent tax refunds, U.S. Attorney Conner Eldridge announced.

Owen Wheeler, 37, and Patricia Wheeler, 51, of Everton, had been indicted in March on 10 counts of filing false claims for tax refunds and 10 counts of stealing federal tax refund money. Owen Wheeler was additionally charged with a single count of aggravated identity theft for setting up a bank account in the name of his wife's son in order to have a place to deposit the fraudulent refunds.

Under a plea agreement, Owen and Patricia Wheeler each pleaded guilty to a single count of filing a false claim and a single count of stealing refund money, and Owen Wheeler pleaded guilty to the additional count of identity theft.

According to the plea agreement, Owen Wheeler admitted that he and his wife prepared some 200 fraudulent individual income tax returns using other people's names, birth dates and Social Security numbers. They then received refunds from the Internal Revenue Service for at least 56 of those.

The Wheelers each face up to 10 years in prison and fines of up to $250,000, according to a news release from Eldridge's office, and Owen Wheeler faces a mandatory two-year prison sentence for aggravated identity theft count that will run consecutively with any other sentence. A sentencing date has not been set.  

This case was investigated by IRS agents with assistance from the Boone County Sheriff's Office and the U.S. Postal Inspection Service. Assistant U.S. Attorney Glen Hines prosecuted the case.



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