A former District of Columbia youth detention program officer faces up to 30 years in prison for stealing the identities of at least 645 young delinquents.
Marc Bell accessed the names and Social Security numbers of current and former detention center participants through the District of Columbia’s Department of Youth Rehabilitation Services’s database from 2010 to 2013, according to the Department of Justice (DOJ).
He then gave that information to accomplices who filed thousands of fraudulent federal income tax returns worth about $40 million. Bell and his accomplices received about $4 million from the IRS, according to the DOJ. The detention center serves almost exclusively young black males, according to D.C. government data.
“Mr. Bell was a public servant who was trusted to serve the taxpayers of the District of Columbia,” IRS Special Agent in Charge Thomas Jankowski said in a statement. “He violated that trust by stealing the identities of at least 645 youth and then passing the information to his partners-in-crime who filed over 12,000 federal income tax returns claiming refunds of over $40 million.
“Aside from the terrible harm done to the government by receiving over $4 million in refunds before the scam was stopped, Mr. Bell has caused immeasurable harm to the financial well-being of the youth whose identities he stole.”
At least 14 others have pleaded guilty in the same scheme so far.
Bell pleaded guilty to conspiracy to defraud the government, aiding and abetting in the filing of fictitious or false claims, and aiding and abetting fraud and related activity in connection with identification documents.
Court records show Bell was laid off through a “reduction in force” in October 2013, and Bell appealed the abolishment of his position. The court document does not mention misconduct.
Bell will be sentenced April 20.
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