Jonesboro woman sentenced in tax fraud case

ATLANTA — A Jonesboro woman with a history of drug, theft, forgery and prostitution convictions pleaded guilty to racketeering in a $25,000 tax fraud case and is serving her third term in state prison in 10 years.

Melissa Ann Helm, 43, will serve four years on probation after she is released in August.

Georgia Attorney General spokeswoman Lauren Kane said Helm was one of five defendants who operated a scheme to steal from taxpayers through fraudulent tax returns. The remaining defendants, all of Atlanta, pleaded guilty this week in Fulton County Superior Court.

Kimberly Banks and Monique Bussey pleaded to one count each of racketeering and theft by taking, Kane said. Brittany Banks and Shaneka Richards pleaded guilty to theft by taking.

Kane said the scheme involved filing tax returns for people who do not live or work in Georgia and without their knowledge or consent. Information about the victims was used to file fake tax returns so as to generate Department of Revenue tax refund checks, she said.

“The refund checks would be mailed to various addresses of the conspirators, and subsequently deposited into the bank account of one of the conspirators,” Kane said.

Kimberly Banks was sentenced to five years imprisonment, five years probation and restitution of $24,908. Richards was sentenced to six months imprisonment, two and a half years probation and restitution of $3,436.

Brittany Banks was sentenced under the First Offender Act to three years probation and restitution of $3,436. Bussey was sentenced under the First Offender Act to 10 years probation and restitution of $24,908.

According to Georgia Department of Corrections, Helm served three months in prison in 2004 and 2009 for forgery, drugs and theft convictions. Her Clayton County convictions include prostitution, theft and fake drug deals, according to court records.

Assistant Attorney General Greg Lohmeier prosecuted the case on behalf of the state of Georgia. The case was investigated by Special Agent Alan Dickinson of the DOR Office of Special Investigation