Belleville welfare recipient sentenced for tax fraud

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BELLEVILLE, IL (KTVI) – A 46-year-old Belleville woman was sentenced to more than five years in federal prison and three additional years of supervised release for orchestrating a tax fraud scheme that bilked the U.S. government out of more than $500,000, U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Illinois Stephen Wigginton said.

According to court documents, investigators with the IRS’ scheme development center determined Dorresa Braggs filed approximately 201 fraudulent tax returns between the years 2010 and 2012. And while the IRS declined or denied more than half of those returns, the government paid $579,705 in total refunds.

Braggs filed these claims via online tax preparation software. The refunds were issued via check or direct deposit in the form of prepaid debit cards. The addresses on those returns belonged to Braggs’ friends or family.

At the time of sentencing, the court learned Braggs also filed tax returns for her eldest son, who was in jail for murder. She claimed on the return that he was employed at a St. Louis-area hospital and even operated a side business as a mechanic.

Braggs charged anywhere from $500 to $1,000 per tax return, depending on the amount of the refund her clients received. She spent most of that money gambling at local casinos.

Prosecutors also uncovered the fact that Braggs was receiving public aid while defrauding the government with her tax return scheme. Not only was she the recipient of food stamps and housing aid in St. Clair County, Braggs also was a representative payee for Social Security benefits for her son.

Braggs was convicted on 10 counts of making false claims against the United States and one additional count of aggravated identity theft.

In addition to the prison sentence, Braggs must repay all of the money she took as a result of her scheme.