SACRAMENTO, Calif. — A Sacramento couple pleaded guilty today to conspiring to defraud the United States by submitting false claims for income tax refunds to the Internal Revenue Service, U.S. Attorney McGregor W. Scott announced.
According to court documents, between March 29, 2012 and Feb. 14, 2015, William Bennett, 42, and Christina Bennett, 38, conspired with Bridget Coilton, 50, also of Sacramento, to defraud the IRS by submitting false claims for income tax refunds for themselves and for others.
According to the plea agreements, Coilton allegedly provided William Bennett with personally identifying information (PII) of other people, and he would file tax returns for those people claiming false, inflated tax refunds based on false statements he added to the returns. The false returns usually fell into similar categories and contained similar false claims. For example, the tax returns filed as a part of the conspiracy contained false and fraudulent statements regarding employment, income, withholdings from income, and dependency exemptions. Some of the federal tax returns also sought tax credits to which the individuals on the returns were not entitled, such as the American Opportunity Credit.
The fraudulent statements resulted in refunds that were often directed to be deposited into bank accounts the Bennetts or Coilton controlled. After the IRS issued the refunds, the co‑conspirators divided the proceeds amongst themselves, sometimes providing the tax filer with a small portion of the refund. If the refund was deposited into one of the Bennett’s bank accounts, Christina Bennett would often withdraw some of the tax refunds deposited in cash and then deliver the withdrawals to Coilton.
The charges against Coilton are pending. She is presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.
This case is the product of an investigation by the IRS Criminal Investigation. Assistant U.S. Attorney Rosanne Rust is prosecuting the case.
William Bennett and Christina Bennett are scheduled to be sentenced by U.S. District Judge Kimberly J. Mueller on Dec. 7. They each face a maximum statutory penalty of 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine. The actual sentences, however, will be determined at the discretion of the court after consideration of any applicable statutory factors and the Federal Sentencing Guidelines, which take into account a number of variables.