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Woman faces 20 years in prison for filing false tax returns

A 42-year-old woman has admitted to stealing mail to obtain confidential information and then using that information to file fraudulent tax returns. The woman entered guilty pleas to single counts of mail theft, wire fraud and filing a false claim in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California on Jan. 9. She was indicted by a federal grand jury in April 2016 on 14 counts of filing false claims, three counts of aggravated identity theft and three counts of wire fraud.

U.S. prosecutors say that the San Anselmo resident fraudulently obtained the names and Social Security numbers of Marin County residents and then filed false income tax returns with the Internal Revenue Service. The woman is said to have submitted false tax returns electronically between 2010 and 2012. Federal prosecutors say the woman received more than $90,000 in refunds on a falsely declared income of $219,635.89.

Warrants, evidence and arrests in federal criminal matters

Being the subject of a federal criminal investigation is a troubling event. Whether you are fully innocent or realize that you did something afoul of the law, it is imperative that you understand some basic points about a federal investigation.

You need to ensure you understand your rights and responsibilities. Missteps when you're the subject of the investigation can lead to increased legal issues as your case moves through the federal criminal justice system.

Federal employee sentenced for fraud

On Jan. 6, a Social Security Administration employee received a 15-month federal prison sentence for fraud. The 36-year-old California woman was accused of stealing $176,015 in Social Security payments while she had access to the beneficiaries' computer records. She was taken into custody in September 2019 and pleaded guilty to one count of wire fraud the next month.

The woman began working for the SSA as a customer service representative in 2007. While working in the Fountain Valley office, she had direct contact with benefit applicants and recipients. While performing her normal daily job duties, she was able to access SSA computer databases. From April 2017 to August 2019, federal prosecutors say that the woman replaced benefit recipients' direct deposit information with her own personal bank account information so that she would receive their Social Security payments.

California man admits to student loan fraud scheme

A California man who ran three financial services companies that offered to help borrowers to reduce their student loan obligations has pleaded guilty to money laundering and wire fraud. The 42-year-old Sonoma County resident faces up to 20 years in a federal prison on each count when he is sentenced. The guilty pleas were announced on Dec. 20.

The man's companies, which were all based in Rhonert Park, offered to help borrowers to apply for Department of Education programs that consolidate or forgive student debt or reduce monthly loan payments. He has admitted to using deceptive sales tactics between January 2014 and November 2018 that led to losses for his clients of at least $25 million. Prosecutors believe the losses could reach $65 million. The man's sales representatives were instructed to mislead borrowers about the chances of their applications being approved and sell them a package of additional services without disclosing the cost.

A plea deal's role in the federal criminal justice system

The federal criminal justice system is a bit different from the state system. Defendants in the state system are much more likely to be offered a plea deal than those who are a facing a federal system.

Plea deals provide a way for the prosecution to lessen the court's docket load while still ensuring that people who have committed crimes serve punishments. Instead of having to prepare for a trial, the prosecution resolves the case by working out a deal that exchanges the defendant's guilty plea for a specific sentence recommendation.

US representative pleads guilty to corruption

A California congressman from the U.S. House of Representatives is planning to plead guilty to misusing campaign funds. Despite previously denying the charges and saying that he was the victim of a witch hunt by the opposing party, California Rep. Duncan Hunter has reversed course and prepared himself for receiving a sentence. In a statement to the press, he stated that he wants to spare his three children from a trial and avoid the publicity that comes with the process.

Despite being indicted in 2018, Hunter won reelection that year. He said that he would not seek another term. Prosecutors charged the elected official and his wife with more than 60 counts of misusing campaign funds to pay for things like golfing, clothes and vacations. Officials also revealed that the money was used to further romantic affairs with lobbyists and other government employees. Hunter said he will plead guilty to one count.

Man admits to embezzling $22 million from marketing firm

A 29-year-old man has admitted to embezzling approximately $22 million from a marketing company that represents social media influencers. The man's guilty pleas to wire fraud and aggravated identity theft charges were announced by the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Central District of California on Nov. 22. The man could be sent to prison for up to 22 years when he is sentenced on March 20.

According to federal prosecutors, the man embezzled the money between October 2015 and March 2019 while he was the comptroller of a Hollywood digital marketing company. The company has since relocated to London. The man admits that he wired company funds to his personal bank account to invest in cryptocurrencies, buy into poker tournaments, make payments to poker players and pay his credit card bills.

2 types of mortgage fraud to look out for

Anyone who is dealing with loans must ensure they are only providing factual information. Any misstatements might be construed as fraud, which is sometimes a federal crime. If you are charged with any form of fraud, including cases related to a mortgage, empower yourself with knowledge of your rights and options.

Many people are shocked to learn that they can face mortgage fraud charges whether they are a borrower or involved in the lending process. The reasons why people commit fraud vary greatly, but there are some points that remain fairly consistent throughout these cases.

Parent sentenced in college admissions case

A California man who admitted to federal prosecutors that he paid a college admissions consultant $400,000 and a university official $50,000 to secure his two children places at the University of Southern California will spend six months behind bars. The former insurance executive learned of his fate during a sentencing hearing held in a Massachusetts district court on Nov. 11. His sentence is the harshest yet handed down to parents connected to a major college admissions scandal.

The man pleaded guilty in June to fraud charges when it became clear that the consultant behind the college admissions scheme was cooperating with authorities. He confessed to paying the consultant $200,000 to create bogus athletic credentials that led USC to believe his daughter was an All American soccer star and his son was a talented basketball player. The man told prosecutors that he also paid a former USC official $50,000 to ensure that the fraudulent credentials were not questioned.

New animal cruelty felony laws coming out of Congress

Many people in California treat their pets like members of the family, and federal lawmakers have taken action to strengthen federal laws against animal cruelty. The passage of the Preventing Animal Cruelty and Torture Act in the U.S. House of Representatives addressed the criminality of interstate commerce when it contributes to acts of animal cruelty. The U.S. Senate has a similar bill in the works, and final legislation could head to the White House for the president's signature.

The bill specifically addressed the role that interstate or foreign commerce could play in the production of animal crushing videos. The new legislation designated some acts as felonies that had not been mentioned in the 2010 Animal Crush Video Prohibition Act.

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