A St. Croix woman has been sentenced to nearly four years in prison for her role in a complex tax fraud scheme, according to U.S. Attorney Gretchen Shappert.
Jacinta Gussie, 59, was sentenced Friday by U.S. District Court Judge Wilma Lewis to serve three years and nine months in prison and ordered to pay $44,561.11 in restitution to the Internal Revenue Service, according to a news release.
After a six-day trial, a federal jury found Gussie guilty on June 15 of conspiracy to defraud the United States; four counts of theft of government money, and two counts of aggravated identity theft
According to court documents and evidence presented at the trial, from January 2011 to July 2012, Gussie and others “participated in a scheme to steal money from the United States Treasury by fraudulently obtaining federal income tax refunds,” according to the news release. “The scheme involved the acquisition of personal identifying information of Virgin Islanders (i.e. name, Social Security number, and date of birth) used to electronically file falsified tax returns with a designation of refunds to the acquired bank accounts or debit cards. Defendant and her co-conspirators withdrew the deposited refunds.”
They subsequently spent the funds, using a debit card, or transferred the funds to other accounts, all for personal use. As a result of the scheme, approximately $44,561.11 of falsely-claimed returns were deposited into Gussie’s bank accounts.
By means of the scheme, the defendants obtained over $400,000 in illegal tax refunds, according to the news release.
The defendants also claimed additional refunds totaling in excess of $100,000 that were not paid.
Gussie was the 10th and final co-defendant to be convicted in the scheme.
Nine others entered guilty pleas, six of whom have been sentenced. Remaining defendants Thema Liverpool, Nicolette Alexander and Lynell Hughes are pending sentencing, according to the news release.
The case is the culmination of years of investigative work by the Internal Revenue Service, Criminal Investigations, which conducted a probe into a massive stolen identity refund fraud scheme perpetrated in the Virgin Islands and elsewhere.
The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Melissa Ortiz.