(WNY News Now) – A 47-year-old resident of Rochester, NY, has been sentenced to 24 months in prison and ordered to pay $376,747.23 in restitution by U.S. District Judge Frank P. Geraci, Jr., for his involvement in wire fraud, as announced by U.S. Attorney Trini E. Ross.
Buffalo – Kenyatta Phipps, a Rochester resident, has been sentenced to serve 24 months in prison and pay $376,747.23 in restitution after being convicted of wire fraud. The sentencing was carried out by U.S. District Judge Frank P. Geraci, Jr., as confirmed by U.S. Attorney Trini E. Ross.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Richard A. Resnick, who managed the case, revealed that in February 2020, Phipps submitted a federal income tax return for the 2019 tax year, reporting a modest $13,273.00 in wages and interest income. This declaration led to a $696 tax refund. However, in August 2020, Phipps made four fraudulent attempts to file a second 2019 federal income tax return, where he falsely claimed an additional income of $333,522 from his company, Platinum Express Cleaning. These attempts aimed to secure a fraudulent tax refund of $164,951. The IRS rejected all four submissions. In September 2020, Phipps successfully filed a fraudulent amended federal income tax return for 2019, falsely reporting that Platinum Express Cleaning had received $455,734 in gross receipts from Eastman Kodak Company and had more than $355,000 in taxes withheld. This resulted in a fraudulent tax refund and a $186,570 tax loss for the IRS.
Aside from defrauding the IRS, Phipps exploited the false tax returns to submit three fraudulent loan applications to the Small Business Administration (SBA) in the name of Platinum Express Cleaning. These loan applications aimed to secure COVID relief funding through the Economic Injury Disaster Loans (EIDL) program provided by the 2020 CARES Act. Phipps also falsely claimed that Platinum Express Cleaning employed over 120 people, making them eligible for $573,200 in EIDL program loans. However, the SBA uncovered the fraudulent applications before funding them, resulting in the loans being denied.