Durham lawyer jailed for fraud and tax charges, ordered to confiscate over $2m in restitution | USAO-EDNC
RALEIGH, NC — Tiffany Dawn Russell was sentenced to 63 months today for her role in a massive, multi-year fraudulent conspiracy and was sentenced to 36 months for filing a false tax return. These sentences will be served concurrently. Earlier this year, Russell pleaded guilty to charges related to his efforts to obtain more than $2.5 million from at least 12 financial institutions and the United States Small Business Administration. In addition to her prison sentences, Russell was ordered to confiscate more than $2 million in fraud proceeds.
“This defendant spent years defrauding banks and the federal government, and now she will spend years behind bars,” said U.S. Attorney Michael Easley. “As Judge Dever noted at sentencing, it was more than a one-time mistake, it was a slew of bad decisions made by a lawyer who knew better. This fraudulent scheme is even more egregious. as the defendant falsely obtained over $1 million in COVID relief funds intended to help legitimate and hard-working business owners weather the pandemic. The money intended to keep the businesses afloat was instead used to buy beach houses and supporting the personal interests of the defendant I commend the many law enforcement partners of our EDNC Covid Fraud Task Force who helped ensure that attorney Tiffany Russell be brought to justice.
Russell was originally charged in November 2020 with conspiracy to commit bank fraud, bank fraud, access device fraud and misuse of a social security number. According to the indictment, Russell and his co-conspirators applied for loans and credit cards with Social Security numbers that were not issued to them by the Social Security Administration. In doing so, they created themselves new credit profiles or synthetic identities to open financial accounts and make purchases from retailers without any intention of paying for the items and services obtained. Russell was accused of using a fake identity to buy a BMW and obtaining a credit card which she used to pay for her buttock augmentation surgery in 2016.
In addition to using synthetic identities, Russell also embarked on a credit wash program to remove legitimate debt accounts from her credit history by falsely claiming that she had been the victim of credit theft. identity and that she had not opened these accounts. After the credit reporting agencies removed those accounts, his credit rating improved, allowing him to get credit.
Russell also provided fabricated documents during the mortgage application for the purchase of three properties, including a beachfront residence in Nags Head, North Carolina. Russell gave doctored bank statements and inflated pay stubs to make it seem like she had substantial cash and the ability to repay loans.
Finally, between March 30, 2020 and June 29, 2020, Russell and others fraudulently obtained more than $1 million in loans under the CARES Act, which was enacted by Congress to provide financial assistance for emergency to millions of Americans suffering from the COVID-19 pandemic. . The ten loan applications, including two for his law firm, contained false statements regarding the number of employees, monthly payroll, income and expenses.
Russell used these illegally obtained proceeds to pay the down payment on his Nags Head property and purchase five other properties in North Carolina, Maryland and Alabama. Russell also used these ill-gotten gains to pay an unpaid personal debt, unrelated to a business entity.
Michael Easley, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of North Carolina, made the announcement following sentencing by U.S. District Judge James C. Dever III. The Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Internal Revenue Service investigated the case, and Assistant U.S. Attorney Susan B. Menzer was the prosecutor.
On May 17, 2021, the United States Attorney General established the COVID-19 Fraud Enforcement Task Force to mobilize Justice Department resources in partnership with government agencies to bolster enforcement efforts. and prevention of pandemic-related fraud. The task force strengthens efforts to investigate and prosecute the most culpable domestic and international criminal actors and assists agencies administering relief programs to prevent fraud, among other methods, by increasing and integrating coordination mechanisms existing ones, identifying resources and techniques to uncover fraudulent actors and their agendas, and sharing and leveraging information and knowledge gained from previous enforcement efforts. The Eastern District of North Carolina COVID Task Force is part of this effort to coordinate fraud investigations and prosecutions in Eastern North Carolina. For more information about the Department’s response to the pandemic, please visit https://www.justice.gov/coronavirus.
Court documents and related information can be found on the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of North Carolina website or on PACER by searching for case #5: 20-cr-00505-D-3.