Ferndale Man Convicted of Conspiracy, Mail Fraud, Identity Theft and Money Laundering

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DETROIT, MI – A resident of Ferndale, was convicted by a jury last month on numerous counts of conspiracy, mail fraud, aggravated identity theft, and engaging in illegal monetary transactions.

Durand L. Micheau, aka Durand Micheau-El and Gamba Mwenye El, 47-years-old, was convicted following a one-week trial conducted before U.S. District Judge Judith Levy. Micheau is scheduled to be sentenced on October 11.

At an earlier trial, Micheau’s wife and two brothers-in-law, Sharon Gandy-Micheau, Anthony Gandy, and Christopher Gandy, were convicted by a jury on the same charges. Sharon is scheduled to be sentenced on August 28, and Anthony and Christopher, her brothers, are scheduled to be sentenced on August 21.

The evidence presented at the trials established that the defendants participated in a scheme to defraud the federal government that centered on the filing of over 20 fraudulent Forms 1041, U.S. Income Tax Returns for Estates and Trusts. The returns requested over $1.4 million in refunds based on tax withholdings that never occurred. The returns resulted in the IRS’s mailing 14 income tax refund checks to the defendants that were payable to the trusts and totaled $940,000. To facilitate the scheme, the defendants obtained employer identification numbers (EINs) for the trusts from the IRS, opened post office boxes, and opened bank accounts in the names of the trusts. The trusts did not exist. The U.S. Treasury refund checks were either deposited into the bank accounts, followed shortly thereafter by large cash withdrawals, or cashed at local check-cashing stores.

In addition, the scheme used the names and identification information of a number of individuals whose purses or wallets had been lost or stolen, and it depended on the assistance of some of the defendants’ friends.

“These defendants attempted to steal taxpayer money, and they did so by using the identities of innocent victims,” Lemisch said. “This case should signal the ability of IRS investigators to detect fraud and bring offenders to justice.”

IRS-Criminal Investigation Special Agent in Charge Manny Muriel said, “Investigating refund fraud and identity theft remains a priority for IRS Criminal Investigation. Today’s guilty verdicts should send a clear message to would-be criminals that IRS – Criminal Investigation will continue to pursue those who prey on innocent victims and steal from the American tax system.”

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