BUFFALO - U.S. Attorney William J. Hochul, Jr. announced Friday that John M. Berry, Jr., 42, of Dunkirk who was convicted of making a false claim against the United States, was sentenced to 3 years and five months in prison by U.S. District Court Judge Richard J. Arcara. The defendant was also ordered to pay restitution in the amount of $92,462.12 to the Internal Revenue Service.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Aaron J. Mango, who handled the case, stated that between September 3, 2008 and March 25, 2009, the defendant filed 122 false income tax returns for the tax years 2007 and 2008 with the Internal Revenue Service. During that time, Berry obtained the personal and identifying information for 122 recently deceased individuals and then used that information to file federal tax returns on behalf of the deceased. The defendant created fraudulent income and withholding information for the deceased and filed the returns electronically.
The 122 tax returns sought refunds totaling $217,520 from the Internal Revenue Service, of which the defendant received $92,462.12. The refunds were deposited directly into Berry's bank account.
"Identity theft is something that our Office, working with our law enforcement partners, takes very seriously," said U.S. Attorney Hochul. "The defendant in this case not only stole the identities of recently deceased individuals which may have caused further grief to their loved ones, but he also cheated the taxpayers of this country. Such behavior will not be tolerated."
The sentencing is the culmination of an investigation on the part of Special Agents of the Internal Revenue Service - Criminal Investigations, under the direction of Toni M. Weirauch, Special Agent in Charge.