VALDOSTA, GA (WALB) - United States Attorney Charles E. Peeler announced Monday that three women from South Georgia all entered guilty pleas in connection with a federal tax scam that cost the government hundreds of thousands of dollars.
Belinda Harris, 33, Cynthia Clarkston, 38, of Valdosta, and Susie Hall Sherman, 46, formerly of Valdosta, all entered guilty pleas in U.S. District Court April 4, 2018, before Senior District Court Judge Hugh Lawson.
Co-defendants Tanya Franklin, 42, and Johnny "Little Johnny" Gary 27, both of Valdosta, entered guilty pleas in the same case in March 15.
Peeler said the IRS said that 222 fraudulent federal income tax returns for the years 2010 and 2011, were directly linked to the conspiracy, claiming refunds totaling $670,860. Actual refunds of $258,914.00 were issued on those fraudulent returns.
At sentencing, they could receive decades in prison, and be forced to pay restitution.
More than 100 identities were obtained by Gary from an individual employed at Valdosta State University, the DA said.
The case was investigated by the Lowndes County Sheriff's Office, U.S. Secret Service, and the Internal Revenue Service.
"This case is another example of good work by both local and federal investigators partnering to bring people making a living stealing both identities and money to justice," said Peeler.