An investigation by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) Criminal Investigation division led to the arrest of three Clewiston woman on April 24.
According to a press release issued by the United States Attorney’s Office, Roeshell Denise Williams, Sheree Petersen and Yajaira Crespo were arrested and charged with conspiracy to make false claims to the U.S. Department of the Treasury for payment and to embezzle and steal government funds, totaling fifteen counts. The three women were also charged with theft of government funds and aggravated identify theft.
The arrests stem from activity the women allegedly engaged in between January 2012 and September 2012. According to the indictment, Williams, Peterson and Crespo allegedly conspired to file fraudulent tax returns in the names of individuals who did not authorize the women to do so. The refunds from the fraudulent returns were reportedly deposited into bank accounts controlled by either Williams, Peterson or Crespo. The three women then allegedly used the funds for their own personal use.
According to the press release, the indictment states the United States intends to forfeit any assets that may have been purchased using the funds from the fraudulent returns.
According to U.S. Attorney A. Lee Bentley III, if convicted, the woman face up to five years in federal prison for each count of conspiracy and up to 10 years in prison for each count of theft of government funds. They may also face two years in prison for the aggravated identity theft charges, to be served consecutive to the other sentences imposed, if convicted.
Williams was charged with one count of conspiracy and four counts of theft of government funds. Peterson was charged with one count of conspiracy, one count of theft of government funds and six counts of aggravated identity theft. Crespo was charged with one count of conspiracy, two counts of theft of government funds and one count of aggravated identity theft.
The case will be prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Jeffrey F. Michelland.