Kauai woman indicted on tax fraud charges

HONOLULU – A Lihue woman was arraigned Friday on a 12-count indictment after police say she tried to defraud the IRS and state of Hawaii by submitting fake tax returns.

Leihinahina “Jennifer” Sullivan, 45, is facing eight counts of false claims, two counts of wire fraud and two counts of aggravated identity theft, according to a press release from the U.S. Department of Justice.

From at least January 2011 through January 2017, the last year of which is the current tax filing season, Sullivan attempted to defraud the IRS and the state by submitting false tax returns seeking refunds on behalf of other individuals, according to the release.

The tax returns contained false items such as the filing status, dependents, Schedule A expenses including medical and charitable donations, unreimbursed employment expenses, and claims for credits such as child care and the Earned Income Tax Credit.

The indictment alleges Sullivan concealed her acts from the taxpayers, by not reviewing the returns with them before filing, and by using her email addresses as a point of contact with the IRS and state. Sullivan also directed that tax refunds be deposited into bank accounts of the Mobile Native Hawaiian Health, a nonprofit entity of which she held various positions including director, or into other accounts which she controlled.

For the aggravated identity theft charges, the indictment alleges that Sullivan used an individual’s name, Social Security number and signature to file State of Hawaii tax returns for 2010 and 2011.

If convicted, Sullivan faces a maximum term of imprisonment of up to 20 years for each wire fraud count, up to five years imprisonment for each false claims count, and a mandatory minimum term of imprisonment of two years for each aggravated identity theft count.

Sullivan pleaded not guilty to all charges, and her trial was set for April 25, before Chief United States District Judge J. Michael Seabright.

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