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FMCSA Official Pleads Guilty in Tax Fraud Scheme

March 3, 2014

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An official with the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has pleaded guilty for her role in a conspiracy to obtain fraudulent tax refunds, sometimes using the personal information of other individuals without their knowledge or permission.

Sheila Anderson-Cloude, financial management specialist with the agency, admitted her role in U.S. District Court in Baltimore on Feb. 25.

An investigation by the Office of the Inspector General for the U.S. Transportation Department, in conjunction with the IRS, revealed that Anderson-Cloude prepared and filed fraudulent tax returns on her work computer and while at work. 

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According to the Inspector General’s office, from Feb. 8, 2010, through Feb. 20, 2012, Anderson-Cloude filed and caused others to file false federal income tax returns in order to illegally obtain tax refunds to which she was not entitled. In total, she misappropriated over $574,000.

In December, another woman, Tonia Lawson, pleaded guilty to charges of conspiracy to obtain fraudulent tax refunds while using the personal information of other individuals, without their knowledge or permission. 

The DOT Inspector General’s office said Lawson conspired with Anderson-Cloude. The two recruited individuals who ordinarily did not meet the threshold to file income tax returns because they had little or no earned income, and convinced these individuals that they could obtain a substantial refund and therefore should file a federal individual income tax return. 

At least 15 fraudulent tax refunds were deposited directly into accounts controlled by Lawson, who then wrote checks to the recruits to pay them for their portion of the refund. Over the course of the scheme, Lawson conspired in the filing of 84 fraudulent tax returns, with a loss to the government of $546,785.

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