YOUNGSTOWN Grand jury indicts 10 in fraud crimes
The grand jury also handed up indictments against a Youngstown man on firearms violations.
YOUNGSTOWN -- A federal grand jury in Cleveland has returned an indictment accusing 10 Youngstown-area men and women of taking part in a scheme to defraud the Internal Revenue Service and of being part of a ring that cashed thousands of dollars worth of counterfeit checks, the U.S. Attorney's Office said.
Charles L. Wade, 48, is the ringleader of the frauds, the government says. He is serving a 121-month sentence at a federal prison for prior convictions of bank fraud, possession of counterfeit checks and implements to make counterfeit checks.
Wade and his daughters, Tonya P. Alexander, 25, and LaToya D. Alexander, 27, are charged with conspiracy to impede and obstruct the lawful functions of the IRS.
False returns: Wade is accused of recruiting family members, including his daughters, and others by promising to prepare false income tax returns in their names so they would receive refund checks. The filers were to split the refund checks with Wade.
The government alleges that Wade used false filing status, claimed children who did not live with the filers, and attempted to claim false credits and withholdings that did not exist.
Wade and both Alexanders also were each charged with filing false 1994 tax returns with false W-2 forms attached, claiming bogus wages, withholdings, credits and refunds.
Wade also faces five charges of aiding and advising in the preparation and presentation to the IRS of fraudulent individual income tax returns.
Check scheme: Also, Wade; LaToya Alexander; Melvin Vaughn, 31; Aileen Blackshear, 38; Jeffrey D. Blackmon, 42; and Robin L. Ollie, 42, all of the Youngstown area, face charges of conspiracy to make, utter and possess counterfeit securities and to commit bank fraud, by cashing counterfeit checks worth thousands of dollars, the government says.
Wade and LaToya Alexander made the counterfeit checks and Wade would split proceeds with others who cashed the checks, the government says. LaToya Alexander, Vaughn and Blackshear face additional charges of bank fraud.
Rashida L. Williams, 24, and Elvira Williams, 44, both of the Youngstown area, LaToya Alexander, and Lashell A. Alexander, 26, of Texas, face charges of conspiring with Wade to make, utter and posses counterfeit securities, and to commit mail fraud, wire fraud and bank fraud.
These charges stem from individuals' mailing counterfeit checks from Ohio to Alexander's Texas home. Rashida Williams cashed several checks in Texas and she and Elvira Williams wired proceeds to partners in Ohio, the U.S. Attorney's Office says. Rashida Williams also is charged with mail fraud and wire fraud.
Wade, Ollie and Blackmon also are charged with making, uttering and possessing counterfeit checks. Blackmon faces an additional charge of possessing and receiving a computer used to prepare the checks.
Wade and LaToya Alexander also face additional charges of conspiracy to tamper with witnesses.
The case was investigated by the Youngstown offices of the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the IRS criminal investigation unit with assistance from the Austintown, Boardman, Liberty, Youngstown, and Sherman, Texas, police departments.
Others indicted: Other indictments handed up:
U Christopher L. Lanning, 20, of Ottawa Drive, Youngstown, faces charges of illegal possession of firearms and ammunition and making false statements to federally licensed firearms dealers in the attempt to acquire firearms.
The government alleges that Lanning had a .22-caliber pistol in March in violation of a Mahoning County domestic violence protection order. The government adds that he lied about the court order when attempting to purchase a .410-gauge shotgun at a Wal-Mart store in Poland and a .22-caliber rifle from a Kmart store in Austintown.
The charges are being prosecuted as part of "Operation Safe Neighborhoods," a program administered by the U.S. Attorney's Office, the city of Youngstown, the Mahoning County Prosecutor's Office, the Youngstown Police Department and the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms.
U Mary Armstrong, 33, of Parkcliff Avenue, Youngstown, faces charges of mail theft.