Woman sentenced to federal prison for involvement in Mill Spring fraud

Published 10:00 pm Tuesday, August 2, 2016

MILL SPRING – A woman from Alabama was sentenced on July 28 to 70 months in prison for her involvement in providing identification information to Senita Birt Dill and Ronald Jeremy Knowles, of Mill Spring, who collected more than $3.5 million in fraudulent tax returns.

Michelle Banks, 51, of Grove Hill, Alabama was sentenced to 70 months in federal prison as well as ordered to serve three years under court supervision and to pay $181,221 in restitution to the Internal Revenue Service, according to a release from United States Attorney Jill Westmoreland Rose.

Dill was sentenced in 2014 to 27 years in federal prison and Knowles was sentenced to five years and 10 months in federal prison, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

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The couple was also ordered to serve three years under court supervision and to pay $3,978,211 in restitution to the Internal Revenue Service.

The couple pleaded guilty in 2012 for participating in the tax scheme from 2009 to 2012.

According to court records, Banks provided her two co-conspirators, Dill and Knowles, with fraudulently obtained personal identification information of individuals. That information included names, dates of birth and social security numbers given to Dill and Knowles, who used them to file more than 1,000 false tax returns, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

Banks obtained the personal information through a variety of ways, according to court records, including stealing the information from an apartment rental company where she was employed. Banks provided as much as eight percent of the stolen identifications Dill and Knowles used to file the fraudulent returns, according to court records. Dill and Knowles shared the fraudulently obtained refunds with Banks and other co-conspirators, court records indicate. Court records also show that at times, Banks permitted Dill to directly deposit the refunds into Banks’ bank account or the bank accounts of Banks’ family members. Banks would then send Dill her share of the refunds using prepaid debit cards.

Banks pleaded guilty last year to one count of false claims conspiracy and one count of aggravated identity theft, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office. She was ordered to report to the Federal Bureau of Prisons once a facility is designated. All federal sentences are served without the possibility of parole.