State prisoner sentenced to 129 months in federal prison on tax fraud conspiracy

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LEXINGTON, Ky. (WTVQ) – A prisoner in eastern Kentucky has been sentenced to 129 months after pleading guilty to conspiring to submit false tax returns using the names of other prisoners.

A U.S. District Judge sentenced William Helton, 37, of Mt. Sterling, Ky., for conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud, and aggravated identity theft. The judge also ordered Helton to pay $96,522 in restitution, plus interest. Under federal law, Helton must serve at least 85 percent of his prison sentence, and upon his release, he will serve three years of supervised release.

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In his plea agreement, Helton admitted that while he was a state prisoner, he and a co-conspirator outside of prison, Jason Tyre, met and corresponded through a prison pen-pal program and developed a conspiracy in which they and other co-conspirators submitted numerous false tax returns, using other people’s personal information to fraudulently obtain money from tax refunds.

Helton also admitted that the overall conspiracy amounted to $390,000 of false tax refund claims over four years. Helton acknowledged that he obtained other prisoners’ personal information, without their knowledge, such as social security numbers and provided that information in a letter to Tyre.

Then at Helton’s direction, Tyre filled out tax forms using the names and personal information of other prisoners. Tyre made false claims on the tax forms regarding items such as, filing status, income, employment, and number of dependents, in order to maximize the refund amount.

Helton further admitted that he directed Tyre to open bank accounts in Tyre’s name to hold the money from the fraudulent tax refunds and to wire the money to other co-conspirators once he received the tax refunds.

Helton was in state prison for convictions related to burglary, theft and drugs.

Tyre is scheduled for sentencing on May 26.