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Turlock inmate sentenced for tax fraud
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A Turlock man serving a prison sentence for burglary has been given additional time behind bars for fraudulent tax refunds, according to the U.S. Department of Justice.

Daniel Allen Coats, 34, of Turlock, was sentenced Friday to one and a half years in prison and ordered to pay $8,938 in restitution for his role in a conspiracy to defraud the United States by filing false claims for federal tax refunds.

According to court documents, beginning in 2011, Coats and three fellow inmates in the California Correctional Center in Susanville obtained the personal identification information of other inmates and provided it to co-defendants outside the prison. The codefendants then used that information to prepare and file false income tax returns with the Internal Revenue Service, claiming refunds to which the inmates were not entitled. Coats also filed three false tax returns in his own name.

In all, the conspiracy resulted in at least 247 false claims for income tax returns in the tax years 2008 through 2011. Although the IRS stopped some of these refunds, approximately 138 fraudulent refunds totaling approximately $219,984 were issued.

“Prison refund fraud schemes are a priority for Special Agents at IRS Criminal Investigation,” said Cindy S. Chen, Acting Special Agent in Charge, IRS Criminal Investigation. “Today’s sentence of Daniel Coats is an example of our hard work in combating tax fraud and assuring to the public that those who commit tax fraud are prosecuted to the fullest extent.”

Coats was arrested in January 2014 when he and Victoria Salen, 32, were stopped near Skywalker Ranch in Marin County. Inside the couple’s Chevrolet truck, law enforcement found several items commonly used in burglaries, including a lock-picking kit, shaved keys, bolt cutters and a crowbar. Deputies also found ammunition, as well as purses, cell phones and electronics that were covered in glass, giving the indication that had been stolen.

That arrest occurred while they were out on bail for charges in Stanislaus County stemming from stolen property that was found at their residence after a fire was started nearby.