United States Attorney for the Middle District of Georgia Michael J. Moore has announced that Maurice Hester, of Milledgeville, Georgia, has been sentenced after pleading guilty to multiple charges.
Officials say that Hester will serve a total of 64 months in prison and three years of supervised release following his guilty plea to filing false claims against the government and wire fraud, aggravated identity theft, and theft of government property. The court also ordered Hester to pay restitution in the amount of $32,129 and a $700 mandatory assessment fee.
Prosecutors say that on April 8, 2013, Hester entered a guilty plea to filing false claims against the government and wire fraud by filing false income tax returns and fraudulent claims for refunds, including one claim for a fraudulent refund of over $600,000. In addition, Hester pleaded guilty to aggravated identity theft by filing tax returns in the names of others and then transmitting false refunds into his own bank accounts. Hester also pleaded guilty to theft of government property for the false income tax refunds that were deposited into his bank account. The indictment also charged Hester with mail fraud for unlawfully diverting the mail of another taxpayer, so the he could wrongfully intercept a U.S. Treasury check.
"The prison time received by Mr. Hester should serve as a strong warning that tough punishment awaits those who embark on a similar criminal path," said Veronica Hyman-Pillot, Special Agent in Charge, IRS-Criminal Investigation. "As the defendant in this case has learned, stealing from the American people will not be tolerated and you will be held accountable."
Prosecutors add that Income verification documents showed that Hester did not earn the wages he reported on his personal income tax return and the returns were completely false. He fraudulently listed his profession as "authorized agent" when in fact, he was a barber filing illegal tax returns.
"When Mr. Hester stole from the government with his tax and identity theft scheme, he didn't steal from some faceless entity; he stole from every good, law-abiding tax-paying citizen. We won't allow our Treasury to be raided, just like we would not allow our personal bank accounts to be robbed, by Mr. Hester or anyone else," said U.S. Attorney Michael Moore.
The investigation was handled by the United States Secret Service and Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigation. Assistant United States Attorney Graham Thorpe prosecuted the case for the Government.