A 47-year-old Jacksonville, FL woman named Ann Marie Howard Aguiar entered a guilty plea earlier this month in federal court to one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud, as part of her participation in a national tax refund fraud scheme originating in Nashua, New Hampshire.
In her admission of guilt, Aguiar confessed to being one of eight women recruited by Craig S. Cudhea of Nashua to file a large number of false tax returns, resulting in claims from the IRS of over $9.4 million to people who were not entitled to a refund. The IRS says over $4 million was actually paid before the scam was detected.
According to the U.S. Attorney’s Office, Cudhea initially recruited a large group of pastors of churches in eight states to solicit names and social security numbers from members of their congregations, on the pretense that the information would be used to obtain government stimulus funds to aid the unemployed, disabled and impoverished. Cudhea then sent this information to approximately eight women (including Aguiar) whom he’d recruited on the Internet—a group Cudhea referred to as his “Angels”—who entered the information into falsified tax returns. Aguiar was charged on the belief that she was aware that the tax returns were fraudulent, but submitted them anyway.
Craig Cudhea, the mastermind of the scheme, was facing 32 federal charges, but committed suicide when he discovered he was about to be charged. (The charges against him have been dropped.) Aguiar faces up to five years in prison and a maximum fine of $250,000 for her participation in the scheme. She is scheduled to be sentenced on Friday, January 16