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St. Croix’s Lynell Hughes Faces Ten Years In Prison For Being Convicted of Tax Fraud

CHRISTIANSTED – A St. Croix woman admitted in federal court on Friday that she got at least $62,000 by a fraudulent tax scheme.

Lynell Hughes, 35, pled guilty on August 17, 2018, in U.S. District Court to conspiracy to defraud the United States, U.S. Attorney Gretchen C.F. Shappert said.

According to the plea agreement filed with the court, from January 2011 to July 2012, Hughes and others participated in a scheme to steal money from the United States treasury by fraudulently obtaining federal income tax refunds.

The scheme involved the acquisition of personal identifying information used to electronically file falsified tax returns for tax years 2010 and 2011.

Hughes and her co-conspirators filed tax returns in individuals’ true names and actual social security numbers and dates of birth but falsified the individuals’ income earned, tax withholding amounts, credits, and other information, and thereby claimed refunds to which they were not entitled. Hughes and her co-conspirators designated bank accounts for receipt of the refunds, which, once received, they then withdrew and spent for personal use.

As a result of the scheme, $122,736 was designated to Hughes’ bank account, of which $62,011 was actually deposited therein.

Sentencing is set for December 19, 2018. Hughes faces a maximum sentence of ten years and a $250,000 fine.

Hughes counts as her friends on social media former immediate past Delegate to Congress Donna Christian-Christensen (D-STX) and sitting St. Croix Sen. Novelle Francis Jr. — (she might need them now).

The case was investigated by the Internal Revenue Service, Criminal Investigations.

It is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Meredith J. Edwards and Alphonso Andrews, Jr.

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The Author

John McCarthy

John McCarthy

John McCarthy is primarily known for his investigative reporting on the U.S. Virgin Islands. A series of reports beginning in the 1990's revealed that there was everything from coliform bacteria to Cryptosporidium in locally-bottled St. Croix drinking water, according to a then-unpublished University of the Virgin Islands sampling. Another report, following Hurricane Hugo in 1989, cited a Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) confidential overview that said that over 40 percent of the U.S. Virgin Islands public lives below the poverty line. The Virgin Islands Free Press is the only Caribbean news source to regularly incorporate the findings of U.S. Freedom of Information Act requests. John's articles have appeared in the BVI Beacon, St. Croix Avis, San Juan Star and Virgin Islands Daily News. He is the former news director of WSVI-TV Channel 8 on St. Croix.

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