Nisha Brathwaite, 39, and Darleen Thompson, 38, both of St. Croix, were sentenced last Thursday and Friday respectively, for conspiracy to defraud the United States, U.S. Attorney Gretchen Shappert announced.
In a news release issued on Monday, Shappert said Brathwaite was sentenced to 21 months in prison, 3 years supervised release and ordered to pay a special assessment of $100 plus restitution in the amount of $57,360, and Thompson was sentenced to 21 months in prison, 3 years supervised release and ordered to pay a special assessment of $100, plus restitution in the amount of $62,997.53.
Both women had been charged in a ten-defendant, 119-count bill of indictment returned by the federal grand jury in September 2016. Both pled guilty in January 2020. According to the plea agreements and stipulated documents filed in federal court, from January 2011 to July 2012, both women and others participated in a scheme to steal money from the United States Treasury by fraudulently obtaining federal income tax refunds. They and their co-conspirators caused income tax returns for tax years 2010 and 2011 to be electronically filed in individuals’ true names and actual social security numbers; however, the defendants and their co-conspirators falsified the individuals’ income earned, tax withholding amounts, credits and other information, and thereby claimed refunds to which they were not entitled.
As a result of the scheme, $57,360 was deposited into Brathwaite’s bank account and $62,997.53 was deposited into Thompson’s account, Shappert said in the news release. The case is the result of years of investigative work by the Internal Revenue Service, Criminal Investigations, which conducted a probe into a massive stolen identity refund fraud scheme perpetrated in the Virgin Islands and elsewhere and determined that Internal Revenue Service lost hundreds of thousands of dollars from the scheme.
Of the ten defendants charged in the Virgin Islands tax fraud scheme, Brathwaite and Thompson are the second and third to be sentenced. Four others have entered guilty pleas and are pending sentencing. The remaining three are pending a trial date.
The case was investigated by the Internal Revenue Service, Criminal Investigations and is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Alphonso Andrews Jr. and Melissa Ortiz.