TRENTON – Attorney General Gurbir S. Grewal today announced that a tax preparer, her husband, and a co-conspirator were sentenced to prison or face prison after pleading guilty for their roles in a scheme in which they stole hundreds of thousands of dollars by filing false tax returns with the State of Hawaii to obtain refunds. They tried to steal over $400,000, but because some filings were denied, the actual loss was $246,667. Twelve other defendants face probation in the Hawaii tax fraud scheme. Another defendant faces prison in a related investigation involving tax fraud against the State of New Jersey.
The defendants were indicted in “Operation Coast to Coast,” a joint investigation by the New Jersey Division of Criminal Justice Financial & Cyber Crimes Bureau, New Jersey State Police Cyber Crimes Unit, New Jersey Division of Taxation-Office of Criminal Investigation, and State of Hawaii Department of Taxation. The investigation began with a referral from the Hawaii Department of Taxation, which identified a number of New Jersey residents who fraudulently obtained tax refunds.
These defendants were sentenced or will be sentenced in Superior Court in Hudson County:
- Mylove D. Tetterton, 45, of East Orange, N.J., who led the scheme, faces a sentence of 12 years in prison. Her husband, Anthony Hodges, was sentenced to prison yesterday, Nov. 21, and because they have young children, she will be allowed to serve her sentence once he is released. She is awaiting sentencing. She pleaded guilty on April 19, 2019 to money laundering and trafficking in personal identifying information in the Hawaii case. Tetterton also pleaded guilty to a separate accusation charging her with theft by deception and misconduct by a corporate official in connection with tax fraud against the state of New Jersey and the United States from 2012 to 2015. In that scheme, Tetterton filed fraudulent tax returns on behalf of her clients to obtain New Jersey tax refunds that they were not entitled to receive. She is responsible for restitution to the State of New Jersey, Division of Taxation, in the amount of $56,592 and restitution to the Internal Revenue Service in an amount of $22,542. She faces a sentence of five years in prison on those charges, concurrent to the longer sentence for the Hawaii tax scheme.
- Anthony Hodges, 44, of East Orange, who assisted his wife in the Hawaii scheme, was sentenced yesterday, Nov. 21, to five years in state prison by Superior Court Judge Mitzy Galis-Menendez. He pleaded guilty to a charge of conspiracy.
- Reginald Haines, 51, of Neptune, N.J., was sentenced on Feb. 15, 2019 to three years in state prison by Superior Court Judge Mirtha Ospina. He pleaded guilty to a charge of conspiracy.
- Constantine Kunaka, 27, of Jersey City, N.J., faces a recommended sentence of three years in prison. He is awaiting sentencing. He pleaded guilty on Feb. 15, 2019 in a related investigation to an accusation charging him with receiving stolen property and filing fraudulent tax returns with the State of New Jersey. He must pay $238,693 in restitution to the State of New Jersey.
“Tetterton was prolific in filing false tax returns, recruiting a crew of relatives and friends to convert nearly a quarter of a million dollars in ill-gotten refund checks into cash,” said Attorney General Grewal. “We are determined to stop this type of fraud, which is costly to taxpayers everywhere, and in this case, we worked jointly with special agents in Hawaii to uncover this scheme and bring those responsible to justice.”
“Just as we aggressively prosecute those who steal from the State of New Jersey and its taxpayers, we stand ready to investigate and charge those who engage in tax fraud that crosses jurisdictional lines,” said Director Veronica Allende of the Division of Criminal Justice. “These prison sentences are the result of great collaboration among the attorneys in our Financial & Cyber Crimes Bureau, detectives in the New Jersey State Police Cyber Crimes Unit, and special agents in New Jersey and Hawaii.”
“Tetterton fraudulently filed more than 60 tax returns by using the identities of other people, some of whom were deceased,” said Colonel Patrick Callahan of the New Jersey State Police. “Tax fraud is not a victimless crime, and the detectives in our Cyber Crimes Unit will continue to work collaboratively with our law enforcement partners to ensure that these crimes do not go unpunished.”
“Tax fraud is a serious crime that undermines government and harms hardworking, law-abiding taxpayers everywhere. It’s reassuring to know that we have outstanding public servants across multiple government agencies who are committed to rooting out this fraud. I want to thank everyone involved in this joint investigation – from the Attorney General’s Office, to the State Police, to our Division of Taxation and the Hawaii Department of Taxation – for their commitment and collaboration,” said New Jersey State Treasurer Elizabeth Maher Muoio.
“By working with other jurisdictions such as New Jersey, we can hold more criminals accountable for their actions whether they are in Hawaii or New Jersey,” said Rona M. Suzuki, Director of the Hawaii Department of Taxation. “Mahalo – thank you – and congratulations to our partners in New Jersey for their persistence and diligence to successfully prosecute this case.”
Mylove D. Tetterton is responsible for full restitution for the money stolen through the tax fraud scheme involving the State of Hawaii. Each of the other defendants is responsible for restitution limited to the amount he or she actually received.
Deputy Attorneys General Jamie Picard and Janet Bosi took the pleas and handled the sentencings for the Division of Criminal Justice Financial & Cyber Crimes Bureau, under the supervision of Bureau Chief Julia Glass, Deputy Bureau Chief Jillian Carpenter, and former Bureau Chief Michael Monahan.
Tetterton owned and operated a tax preparation service in Jersey City called Mylove’s Tax Service. She filed 65 fraudulent Hawaii tax returns for tax year 2013 for individuals who never resided in or earned wages in Hawaii. She used personal identifying information that was obtained from co-conspirators or stolen, including personal identifying information of people who were deceased. Tetterton used much of the stolen money to gamble in Atlantic City.
Tetterton had the refund checks sent to addresses associated with her or her co-conspirators. She cashed only a few checks herself, but directed her co-conspirators to cash or deposit the checks and turn over a large share of the money to her. Her husband, Hodges, acted as her “money man,” collecting proceeds of the refund checks from the other co-conspirators, who included relatives and friends of the couple.
The following defendants pleaded guilty to third-degree charges and were sentenced yesterday (where noted with *) to sentences of probation, or are awaiting sentencing and face sentences of probation:
- Jean Allen, 49, of Egg Harbor Township, N.J.
- *Jasmire Coar, 29, of Jersey City, N.J.
- Jamal Coar, 30, of Jersey City, N.J.
- *Jermaine Thomas, 47, of Jersey City, N.J.
- *Kevin Grant, 50, of Jersey City, N.J.
- *Yolanda Terry, 44, of Freehold, N.J.
- *Karen Bristol-Thomas, 55, of Whitesboro, N.J.
- *Max Clairsin, 27, of Jersey City, N.J.
- *Rosetta Hodges, 37, of Neptune, N.J.
- Joseph Pierce, 49, of New Brunswick, N.J.
- *Gabriel Daravina, 44, of Roselle, N.J.
- *William Young, 58, of Jersey City, N.J.
Six other defendants will be admitted into the Pre-Trial Intervention Program.
Former Deputy Attorney General Brandy Malfitano and Deputy Attorney General Marie McGovern presented the case to the state grand jury for the Division of Criminal Justice Financial & Cyber Crimes Bureau, assisted by Analyst Nathalie Kurzawa.
AG Grewal commended the members of the Division of Criminal Justice assigned to the case, as well as the Detectives of the New Jersey State Police Cyber Crimes Unit, Special Agents of the Financial Crimes Unit of the New Jersey Division of Taxation-Office of Criminal Investigation, and Special Agents of the Hawaii Department of Taxation who conducted the investigation.
The lead investigators in New Jersey were Detective Sgt. Joseph Sembler of the New Jersey State Police and Special Agent Paul Honan of the Financial Crimes Unit of the New Jersey Division of Taxation-Office of Criminal Investigation. Lead Special Agent Albert Piepszak and Chief Special Agent Jordan Lowe were lead investigators for the Criminal Investigation Section of the Hawaii Department of Taxation.
For Mylove D. Tetterton: Wanda Akin, Esq., Newark, N.J.
For Anthony Hodges: Edward James Mullins, Esq., Union City, N.J.
For Reginald Haines: Kathleen M. Theurer, Esq., Jersey City, N.J
For Constantine Kunaka: Maximillian A. Novel, Esq., Jersey City, N.J.
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