Former federal employee sentenced to 15-month prison term for tax fraud

By Greg Grisolano, Land Line staff writer | 8/15/2014

A former employee of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has been sentenced to 15 months in federal prison after admitting her role in a conspiracy to obtain fraudulent tax refunds.

Sheila Anderson-Cloude pleaded guilty Feb. 25 in U.S. District Court in Baltimore to conspiracy to obtain fraudulent tax refunds. Anderson-Cloude worked as a financial management specialist with FMCSA. The sentencing agreement was reached on July 30.

Investigators with FMCSA found evidence that Anderson-Cloude prepared and filed fraudulent tax returns while at work using her office computer, sometimes using personal information of individuals without their knowledge.

Between Feb. 8 and Feb. 20, 2012, the release states, Anderson-Cloude filed and had others file false federal income tax returns to illegally obtain tax refunds she wasn’t entitled to. In addition to the prison sentence, she was also ordered to pay $546,785 in restitution, the amount she was accused of having misappropriated from the scheme.

Anderson-Cloude worked with Tonia Patrice Lawson, a Maryland resident who was unemployed at the time, to recruit individuals who didn’t meet earnings requirements to file income tax returns. The pair told recruits they could obtain large tax refunds. Lawson would recruit individuals for the scheme and collect their personal information before forwarding the details to Anderson-Cloude. Anderson-Cloude then added fake income and withholding amounts to file the returns.

Lawson pleaded guilty for her role in the scheme in 2013.

The investigation was handled by the U.S. DOT Office of Inspector General and the Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigation Department. 

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