Crime - Sacto 911

Three Northern California residents plead guilty to W-2 tax fraud scheme worth $570,000

Three Northern California residents pleaded guilty Tuesday to conspiring in a tax fraud scheme that used falsified W-2 forms to acquire tax refunds.

Sequoiya D. Harris, 35, formerly of Sacramento and Stockton, John A. Owens Jr., 32, of Sacramento and Dionne Thomas, 53, of Galt admitted to conspiring to defraud the IRS, according to a news release issued by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of California.

The three conspired between February 2009 and April 2013, submitting hundreds of tax returns in their names and others’ that falsely claimed employer withholdings, according to the release.

The W-2 forms sought returns and tax credits for the withheld earnings, and Owens and Thomas directed the funds into bank accounts they managed, sharing some money with Harris, according to the release.

Of nearly $1 million worth of refunds sought in the scheme, more than $570,000 was paid out by the IRS, according to the release.

Co-defendant Joe E. Rodriguez Jr. is accused of conspiring to submit the W-2 forms and helping Owens and Thomas manage bank accounts, according to the release. Rodriguez’s trial is scheduled for June 24.

Harris, Owens and Thomas are scheduled to be sentenced Sept. 24, and each faces up to five years in prison and a $250,000 fine, according to the release.