Tax Return Preparer Pleads Guilty In Identity Theft Tax Refund Scheme Involving Miami-Dade County Public School Students’ Identity Info

Donald Claude, 34, of Miramar, pled guilty yesterday to one count of wire fraud, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 1343, and one count of aggravated identity theft, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 1028A(a)(1). Sentencing is scheduled for October 24, 2014. At sentencing, Claude faces up to 20 years in prison for wire fraud, and a mandatory term of two years in prison, consecutive to any other term in prison, for aggravated identity theft.

According to court documents, Claude was the Chief Executive Officer of J&D Tax Services, LLC. Claude obtained an Electronic Filing Identification Number (EFIN) for J&D Tax Services, LLC which permitted Claude and co-defendant James Jean-Baptiste to file tax returns electronically in the names of other individuals. Claude also obtained a Preparer Tax Identification Number (PTIN) as a tax preparer that permitted him to identify himself as the preparer on tax returns electronically filed in the names of other individuals.

Claude and Jean-Baptiste obtained the personal identification information (PIl) of students from an employee of Miami-Dade County Public Schools. Claude and Jean-Baptiste used the students’ stolen identities to file false and fraudulent tax returns with the IRS to fraudulently obtain tax refunds for their personal use and benefit. Claude and his co-conspirators caused over $200,000 in false and fraudulent tax refund claims to be submitted to the IRS from 2009 through 2011 through his EFIN and PTIN.

James Jean-Baptiste was charged with one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 1349, seven counts of wire fraud, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 1343, and seven counts of aggravated identity theft, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 1028A(a)(1). Jean-Baptiste remains at large.

SOURCE: U.S. Attorney’s Office, Southern District of Florida

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