TCI prisoner ran tax fraud scam, feds say
LEAVITTSBURG -- A 45-year-old man is charged with income tax fraud, reportedly committed mostly while serving as a prisoner at the Trumbull Correctional Institution.
Ronald Dean Wells of Columbus, who is serving a 20-year to life sentence for aggravated murder, is charged in federal court by way of information with conspiracy to defraud the government by making false income tax claims.
Usually those charged by way of information have agreed to plead guilty in exchange for a specific sentence.
Wells will be arraigned May 10 before Judge David D. Dowd Jr. in U.S. District Court in Akron after an Internal Revenue Service probe.
John M. Siegel, an assistant U.S. attorney in Cleveland, said the scheme was carried out from November 1996 through October 2002 while Wells was an inmate at TCI.
He is now serving his sentence at the Grafton Correctional Institution.
During tax years 2000 and 2001, Wells caused 35 fraudulent income tax returns to be filed with the IRS containing combined false and fictitious tax refunds totaling 236,851, Siegel said.
He explained that based on 11 of the false claims, the IRS issued 11 refund checks totaling 56,189, which were cashed by unidentified co-conspirators.
The money was distributed to members of the scheme at the direction of Wells, Siegel said.
Wells is also charged with making false claims regarding some of the false returns filed with the government.
According to Siegel, Wells arranged for people outside the prison to help him, sometimes unknowingly, open accounts in his name or the names of other TCI inmates.
When the refund checks were received, they were deposited into those accounts and then distributed, the government prosecutor said.