Vallejo Woman, Tamara Manuel Sentenced to Over 3 Years in Prison for Wire Fraud and Identity Theft
(STL.News) Tamara Manuel, 52, of Vallejo, was sentenced today by U.S. District Judge Troy L. Nunley to three years and three months in prison for carrying out a fraudulent scheme that involved stealing the identities of severely disabled individuals to obtain federal tax refunds, U.S. Attorney Phillip A. Talbert announced.
According to court documents, from February 1999 through August 2015, Manuel worked at Sonoma Development Center (SDC), which was a large, state-run facility serving the needs of individuals with developmental disabilities. In her role at SDC, Manuel had access to SDC patients’ personal identification information, including Social Security Numbers and birthdates.
Manuel began stealing SDC patients’ identities in 2011 and filing fraudulent tax returns in their names. In the returns, Manuel falsified, among other things, the purported taxpayers’ employment, wages, tax withholdings, and dependents. She did so to claim exemptions, tax credits, and refunds the purported taxpayers were not due.
For example, Manuel falsely represented in a tax return that an SDC patient made over $23,000 in annual income as a forklift driver, had a dependent, and was owed a child tax credit. In reality, the patient had no income or dependents and was severely disabled, requiring observation and care 24 hours a day.
In total, Manuel stole the identities of at least 18 SDC patients to file 33 fraudulent tax returns in which she claimed refunds totaling over $77,000. Based on those fraudulent returns, Manuel obtained almost $50,000 in refunds from the Internal Revenue Service.
In addition to SDC patients, Manuel also stole others’ identities to file fraudulent federal tax returns in her and her son’s names. Specifically, to maximize her and her son’s tax refunds, Manuel included false dependent information in their returns. For example, in her son’s return for the 2016 tax year, which Manuel filed, she used the names and Social Security numbers of two individuals she falsely claimed were her son’s nephews and dependents.
This case was the product of an investigation by the IRS-Criminal Investigation. Assistant U.S. Attorney Matthew Thuesen prosecuted the case.