Criminal Justice News

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Three Indicted in Stolen Identity Refund Fraud Ring

Tamaica Hoskins and Roberta Pyatt, of Phenix City, Alabama, and Lashelia Alexander, of Columbus, Georgia, were indicted for their roles in a stolen identity refund fraud (SIRF) conspiracy, Acting Deputy Assistant Attorney General Larry J. Wszalek for the Justice Department's Tax Division and U.S. Attorney George L. Beck Jr. for the Middle District of Alabama announced today following the unsealing of the indictment.

According to the indictment, in 2014, Hoskins and Pyatt obtained stolen identities and used those identities to file more than 1,000 federal income tax returns that claimed more than $4 million in tax refunds.  In order to carry out their fraud scheme, Hoskins and Pyatt opened up bank accounts in order to receive tax preparation fees.  In addition, Hoskins and Pyatt printed out fraudulent tax refunds using check stock provided by the financial institutions.  Hoskins, Pyatt and Alexander caused the fraudulent checks to be cashed at several businesses and banks.

If convicted, the defendants face a statutory maximum potential sentence of 20 years in prison for the conspiracy to commit wire fraud count and for each wire fraud count, a statutory maximum sentence of 10 years in prison for each theft of public money count and a mandatory two-year sentence in prison for the aggravated identity theft counts.  The defendants are also subject to fines, forfeiture and mandatory restitution, if convicted.

The case was investigated by special agents of the Internal Revenue Service - Criminal Investigation.  Trial Attorneys Michael Boteler and Gregory Bailey of the Tax Division and Assistant U.S. Attorney Todd Brown for the Middle District of Alabama are prosecuting the case.

An indictment merely alleges that crimes have been committed and the defendant is presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.

BJA Crime Analysis Consortium Resources

The Bureau of Justice Assistance (BJA) funds several projects that offer guidance, training and technical assistance to law enforcement regarding crime analysis. The growing need for an analytic solution can be found through the following BJA projects designed to assist state, local and tribal law enforcement agencies.
  • BJA Fellow: Increasing the Crime Analysis Capacity of Law Enforcement Agencies. Dr. Laura Wyckoff of the University of Maryland is serving as a fellow to BJA for the purpose of increasing crime analysis capacity of law enforcement agencies nationwide.
  • Increasing Analytical Capacity: Training for the Law Enforcement Executive. BJA, in partnership with the Police Foundation, provides training and resources for executives on innovative practices for using crime analysis to increase effectiveness of efforts and reduce crime. The Police Foundation will deliver regional workshops for law enforcement executives.
  • Increasing Analytical Capacity: Crime Analysis for Chief Executives. BJA, in partnership with the International Association of Directors of Law Enforcement Standards and Training, provides a series of regional and online training events in which agency teams create customized action plans for the implementation of better analysis and use of analysis.
  • Building a Nationwide Crime Analysis Capability. BJA, in partnership with the Institute for Intergovernmental Research, is identifying, assessing and leveraging best practices and lessons learned from existing Crime Analysis Centers. Three pilot sites will be selected to assist in the development of a robust crime analyst capability and to develop an implementation toolkit of resources.
BJA National Training and Technical Assistance Center: Crime Analysis on Demand. The BJA National Training and Technical Assistance Center facilitates the delivery of high-quality, strategically focused training and technical assistance (TTA) to achieve safe communities nationwide. NTTAC will identify providers to deliver services and products that address analytical gaps and needs for crime analysts and law enforcement personnel, and to demonstrate successful implementation of TTA strategies.

Webinar on Protecting Children of Arrested Parents

A webinar on Protecting Children of Arrested Parents: Using a Trauma-Informed Approach, will be held Nov. 5, 2014, from 3 p.m. to 4 p.m. Eastern time. Sponsored by the International Association of Chiefs of Police in collaboration with the Bureau of Justice Assistance, the webinar will feature presenters who will facilitate an interactive discussion on the negative impacts of parental arrest on a child’s well-being, and how law enforcement can apply a trauma-informed approach to safeguard children before, during and after a parent’s arrest. Register here. For additional information, contact Eileen LeFurgy at