Two Arrested From Summerville, One From Floyd County
A criminal ring that operated in both Georgia and Pennsylvania was shut down by federal authorities Monday morning with the arrested of two Chattooga County women and one Floyd County resident.
The investigation stretches from Pennsylvania to Summerville and to Floyd County. It involved at least eight people, according to an indictment recently unsealed by a federal court judge.
The first local person arrested was Astrid P. Perry, 36, of 251 Scoggins Street. Heather A. Smith, 25, of 86 Vine Street, turned herself over to federal authorities in front of the courthouse around noon Monday.
Beverly J. McHenry, of 296 Old Dalton Road, Rome, was also arrested.
"It was the object of the conspiracy that defendants . . . and other conspirators . . . did agree to unlawfully use the means of identification, including names and social security numbers of other persons, some of who include prisoners incarcerated in state correctional facilities in Georgia, to unlawfully file false, electronic and paper Form 1040 IRS tax returns in which false refunds were claimed," the indictment filed in Pittsburg states.
The group is being charged under the federal mail and wire fraud statute. The group not only targeted inmates, but also citizens.
The conspirators in Pennsylvania would gather social security numbers and then call or mail them to Georgia for Smith, Perry and McHenry to process.
Smith and McHenry would then use an online tax service called, "Taxslayer.com" to file bogus tax returns. They are accused of entering false income, deduction, credits and other information. The resulting refunds were either electronically funneled to bank accounts in Georgia and western Pennsylvania or mailed to post office boxes in Rome or Summerville, the indictment states.
Smith and McHentry opened several bogus bank accounts in the area. They used the names, "D's Gutter Cleaning Service," Heather Tax and Accounting," "Williams Repair and Remodeling," "Bells Tax Service," and "Frank Smith Tax Consulting and Home Repair."
"It was further a part of the conspiracy that [Smith] did agree to open business checking accounts styled in the name "Heather Tax and Accounting," using a business address of 117A, Paris Drive, SW, Rome at the Northwest Georgia Credit Union and at the Coosa Valley Federal Credit Union, into which she caused ACH deposits of unlawful tax refunds obtained with the false tax returns," the indictment states.
McHenry also opened a Rome checking account, records state.
The group also used H&R Block Emerald Prepaid MasterCards to divert money, records state.
"It was further a part of the conspiracy that the Defendant Astrid P. Perry, did agree to deliver fraudulently obtained IRS refund checks to co-conspirator E.H., which checks were deposited at a bank account controlled by co-conspirator E.H., at Southeast First National Bank in Summerville, Georgia," the indictment states.
The federal indictment did not say what the initials E.H. stood for and there were other initials and co-conspirators.
"[Smith, Perry and McHenry] did agree to accept cash payment and gifts such as cars, from M.W. and other for performing acts in furtherance of the conspiracy, which payments the defendants . . . did use to supplement their personal lifestyle, or to share with other conspirators," the indictment states.
All three Georgia residents were taken before the Rome district federal court magistrate Walter E. Johnson and given a $20,000 bond. They all have to appear in a Pittsburg federal court at 1 p.m. Wednesday.