A D.C. tax examiner who government prosecutors said had created an entirely new identity in order to collect phony tax refunds was convicted yesterday on four counts of cashing forged tax checks.
Racheal Payne of Seat Pleasant was employed by the District's Department of Finance and Revenue. Payne obtained credit cards and bank loans under an assumed name and unlawfully filled out tax refund forms to collect about $700, according to evidence in the case.
Payne was arrested earlier this year after D.C. tax officials initiated an internal probe of her activities, according to one investigator.
During Payne's trial in D.C. Superior Court, Assistant U.S. Attorney Brooks Harrington described what he claimed was a scheme by Payne to "weave a web of deception," first by creating a false name to collect credit cards and a bank loan, and later to fill in false claims for tax refunds.
Payne has since left the city's tax department, the prosecutor said.
Payne's attorney, Michael Lieberman, argued that Payne had been framed by coworkers and that the government's evidence as all "lies."
Harrington said Payne collected about $700 from two separate property tax refund checks in 1978 and 1979. The checks were made out to a "Racheal Thomas" and were sent to a friend of Payne who later gave them to her.
The original tax returns allegedly filed under phony names by Payne disappeared from tax department files, Harrington told the jury. The prosecutor also said Payne tried to convince witnesses to lie in the case and had asked a friend to verify the false address she placed on a bank loan application.
The jury deliberated less than an hour before returning the guilty verdict.
D.C. Superior Court Judge Donald S. Smith ordered Payne held without bond. Harrington said she faces a sentence of up to 10 years on each of the four convictions.