KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT) – A state inmate has been sentenced to serve 46 months in federal prison, after pleading guilty to committing tax fraud while serving time for a different conviction.
39-year-old Larry Steven Covington of Knoxville pleaded guilty to illegally obtaining information such as social security numbers from other inmates – then using the information to prepare and file fraudulent tax returns to the IRS in order to receive refunds.
Covington had a partner for the fraudulent scheme – his mother. According to the plea agreement, Covington would relay personal information to his mother, which she used to prepare and mail tax forms from her Knoxville residence. After the IRS would deposit refunds into one of two bank accounts created by Covington, his mother would put the funds on Green Dot cards and send them to him in prison.
Over 550 fraudulent returns were filed as part of the scheme between 2009 and 2015 – resulting in attempted refunds of over $900,000. In total, around $163,777 was actually lost by the government, which Covington has now been ordered to repay.
Christopher Altemus, IRS Criminal Investigation Acting Special Agent in Charge of the Nashville Field Office, commented on the case, saying the
"sentence serves as a well-timed reminder this tax season; theft from American taxpayers by way of fraudulent tax returns will not be tolerated."