A former Fort Drum sergeant was sentenced to 12 months in prison after he admitted to filing false tax returns for his fellow soldiers to defraud the government of more than $100,000 and line his own pockets.
Bobby Lemon, 36, of McRae, Ga., admitted to inputting false information on soldiers' tax paperwork, changing their filing status and adding dependents to generate larger refunds. In many cases, the listed dependents were members of his own family.
Mr. Lemon then moved a portion of the false refunds into his own personal bank account, court documents said.
"The defendant abused his position as a superior officer to gain access to lower-ranking soldiers to carry out his scheme; a scheme that was very lucrative," said Assistant U.S. Attorney Tamara B. Thomson, in court filings.
In addition to his jail time, Mr. Lemon's sentence includes the payment of $115,391 in restitution, and a year of supervised release after he leaves prison.
Overall, Mr. Lemon filed 30 false income tax returns during the 2011 and 2012 tax years while at Fort Drum and in Afghanistan, and did not disclose the fraudulent payments on his own income tax return, according to prosecutors.
In one instance, Mr. Lemon offered to do a fellow soldier's taxes for free.
The fellow soldier told Mr. Lemon she was single with no children, but Mr. Lemon still filed a return claiming two dependent children, generating a tax refund of $7,138, more than the $1,177 return for which she was entitled.
Mr. Lemon admitted to depositing $2,000 in the fellow soldier's account, and $5,138 into his own account.
Mr. Lemon, telling the fellow soldier what he did, offered her $1,000 if she called the IRS and told them he could deposit a portion of her return into his bank account.
Mr. Lemon, whose 17-year Army career ended in 2015, pleaded guilty in March 2016 to aiding and assisting in the preparation and preparation of a false and fraudulent return and one count of filing a false income tax return.
In a sentencing memorandum, Mr. Lemon's lawyer, Kimberly M. Zimmer, said her client intended "to pay back 'every penny.'"
Ms. Zimmer said Mr. Lemon used the money to support family members in Georgia.
Prosecutors noted Mr. Lemon was convicted in a military court at Fort Hood in 2003 of identity theft/wire fraud, larceny of private funds and making a false official statement after using other soldiers' information to take out loans for his own gain.
"Clearly, the defendant did not learn from that prior incident as he, once again, victimized the very soldiers with whom he served," Ms. Thomson wrote.
The Fort Drum-related case was investigated by the Internal Revenue Service, Criminal Investigation (IRS-CI), New York Field Office.