An Augusta woman was sentenced Thursday in federal court in Bangor to 63 months in prison for stealing personal data from individuals and using it to fraudulently file income tax returns claiming refunds in their names for tax years 2008-2012.

She was ordered to pay restitution of $219,065 to the U.S. Treasury and $19,896 to the State of Maine.

According to the prosecution’s version of events, Joann C. Rittall, 46, who has also lived in Gardiner, claimed on those forms that the individuals worked for one or more local employers, including The Wolfington Group, Kmart Corp., Maine Professional Road Service, J&S Oil Co., Bega Inc. and Romad, Inc. and filed W-2 information that indicated that.

At one point, the prosecution said, she identified two of her minor children as dependents of several of those individuals.

Rittal requested a $6,814 refund for the tax year 2008 for one man she claimed earned $14,687 in adjusted gross income. However, according to a document filed by the prosecutor, Assistant U.S. Attorney F. Todd Lowell, that man was in prison for the entire year.

She had obtained individuals’ personal information, including names, dates of birth and Social Security numbers, beginning in 2005 by offering to aid them in filing tax returns and claims under Maine’s Residents Property Tax and Rent Refund “Circuit Breaker” Program.

All of the false returns were filed electronically from Maine, and refunds were electronically deposited into accounts Rittall opened and controlled.

The refund amounts claimed ranged from about $1,800 to $7,400.

By 2012, investigators had caught on, and the Internal Revenue Service did not issue refunds for the seven fraudulent claims she filed for the 2011 tax year, the report says.

Rittall had pleaded guilty to federal identity theft and fraud in August 2013, and a sentencing hearing has been pending since then. Rittall, through her attorney, James S. Nixon, had sought numerous continuances in the case because of her various medical ailments and hospitalizations.

At the sentencing hearing Thursday afternoon, U.S. District Court Judge John Woodcock ordered Rittall to serve three years of supervised release following the prison term.

According to a press release from U.S. Attorney Thomas Delahanty, the case was investigated by the Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigation division and Maine Revenue Services.

The identity theft charge carries a maximum penalty of 15 years in prison.

Betty Adams — 621-5631

[email protected]

Twitter: @betadams

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