On Thursday of this week, a Okemos, Michigan woman was sentenced to ten years in prison for conspiring to defraud the government by filing false tax returns. The ten-year sentence was the maximum penalty available. Callista Suzena Chiwocha has also been ordered to pay restitution in the amount of $3,627,401.16 to the Internal Revenue Service.
Callista, her husband, Tapera Albert Chiwocha Sr., and their company, Human Services Associates LLC, pled guilty to the charges in March of 2017. Callista’s husband passed away in July of 2017 before he could be sentenced. Human Services Associated LLC, which the defendant attempted to dissolve during the investigation, has been ordered to pay full restitution.
It was concluded that Callista and her husband caused 3,228 false tax returns to be filed on behalf of others over ten months during 2011. The returns requested more than $4.5 million in federal tax refunds from the United States Treasury. Callista, her husband and others working with Human Services Associated conned consumers into giving up their personal identification information while being promised “free stimulus money”.
Most of the tax returns contained false reports of undocumented income and abusive use of earned income credit. It is alleged that the defendants preyed on the poorest and most vulnerable. Human Services Associates was formed to hide their criminal activities. Complaints filed by citizens prompted the FBI and IRS Criminal Investigation to open an investigation into the defendants in 2011. This resulted in search warrants being executed on the couple’s property.
In 2011, investigators seized the contents of more than twenty bank accounts, cash and four vehicles. This led to the recovery of more than $1.5 million in fraud proceeds. Callista Chiwocha has been sentenced to ten years imprisonment and has been ordered to pay full restitution of $3,627,401.16.