A Former IRS Employee Is Going to Prison for Stealing Other People’s Tax Refunds

One of her victims was homeless.

Photo by NoDerog/iStock

Photo by NoDerog/iStock

Ah, January. That time of year when we begin to think about filling out our tax returns — and also how much we all hate the Internal Revenue Service. Well, here’s another reason to hate on the IRS: One of their employees was stealing other people’s refunds.

Northeast Philadelphia resident Modestine “Cookie” Gillette, 48, worked for the IRS seasonally from 2008 until 2012. As part of her job, she would help citizens and businesses who had questions about the IRS’s ridiculously complicated tax code.

Using her position with the agency, Gillette managed to divert the refunds for some of the people she assisted into her own bank account. In six separate instances, she took a total of $12,869 in refund money.

And to increase the amount of the refunds, she fudged the tax returns. For example, Gillette claimed a refund of $5,036 for one individual who was owed only $630. She also claimed a refund of $2,975 for a homeless person who had no income. In only one of the examples cited by the Department of Justice did the claimant see any of their refund: They got $600, while Gillette got $4,436.

Prosecutors say that the victims had no knowledge that Gillette was falsifying their tax returns or taking their money.

As a bonus, Gillette also claimed unemployment benefits for herself during the periods when she was not employed by the IRS. Trouble is, she was earning income from a daycare business that she was operating. All told, she fraudulently received $46,322 in unemployment.

But that’s not all.

Gillette also filed false tax returns for herself, failing to report more than $35,000 in income from the daycare business or the money she made by stealing others’ tax returns, although we guess she’d be kind of crazy to report that.

Gillette pleaded guilty in November and was sentenced on Thursday to 12 months and a day in prison for defrauding the IRS.