A 25-year-old accounting student was sentenced to up to four years in prison yesterday after pleading guilty to claiming a phony $8,255 income tax refund in 1980, part of what prosecutors said was a scheme of bogus refund claims totaling $82,000 against not only the federal government but also Maryland and the District of Columbia.
Wayne A. Lee, a Landover resident and accounting student at the University of the District of Columbia, was sentenced by U.S. District Court Judge Joseph H. Young in Baltimore to serve an indeterminate sentence not to exceed four years.
Internal Revenue Service spokesman Domenic LaPonzina said Lee was originally charged in a nine-count indictment with mail fraud and filing false claims with the government. Investigators determined he had submitted 34 assorted federal, Maryland and D.C. tax refund claims in 1980 by using a series of fictitious names. Lee pleaded guilty to a single count of filing a false claim last July, and the other counts were dismissed yesterday.
According to a statement of facts read at his sentencing, Lee recruited several women who rented post office boxes in the Washington-Baltimore area to be used as addresses to receive the false refunds. Some of the women also opened phony bank accounts for depositing the refunds, the statement of facts said.
The scheme first came to IRS attention, LaPonzina said, when a team of agents monitoring mailing addresses spotted a suspicious pattern in Lee-related returns.
Lee filed 13 bogus refund claims against the federal government ranging from $4,300 to more than $10,000, LaPonzina said, but IRS agents spotted them before any were paid.