Inmate Accused of Filing Bogus Tax Returns in $73,000 Scam

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Using a copy machine and correction fluid, an inmate at Missouri Eastern Correctional Center created 66 false tax returns that cost taxpayers more than $73,000, a federal indictment says.


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Donald W. Sanders, 46, of St. Louis, is accused of doctoring legitimate W-2 forms for himself and 65 fellow inmates, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported. The indictment, handed up Thursday by a federal grand jury in St. Louis, said Sanders filed the bogus returns with the Internal Revenue Service in 2002, for refunds ranging from $454 to $1,867.52.

An internal investigation uncovered the alleged scheme, which involved using the copy machine to enlarge three legitimate W-2 forms from Steak 'n Shake and other businesses, and correction fluid and a typewriter to insert false information. Then it was back to the copy machine to reduce the size of the documents.

Sanders was released from prison in November, U.S. Attorney Matthew Schelp said. He is wanted for arrest on 66 counts of preparing and filing false income tax refund claims.

Missouri Department of Corrections spokesman John Fougere said inmates must be allowed to use copiers to reproduce legal documents. Their right to access to the courts is guaranteed under the U.S. Constitution, he said.

If Sanders returns to prison, it will be familiar territory. He went to prison in 1979 for burglary; later he served time for robbery. In 1992, after a conviction on a weapons possession charge, he was back in prison again. Prosecutors say his latest scheme cost the taxpayers $73,352.14.

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