Prison inmate admits helping file $390,000 in false tax returns from behind bars

A former state prison inmate who took part in a scheme to file $390,000 worth of fraudulent tax returns while he was behind bars has been sentenced to 10 years and nine months in federal prison.

William Helton, 37, also was ordered to pay $96,522 in restitution to the Internal Revenue Service, according to a news release from acting U.S. Attorney Carlton Shier IV.

U.S. District Judge Danny C. Reeves sentenced Helton Friday.

Helton was serving time on burglary, theft and drug charges at the Eastern Kentucky Correctional Complex in West Liberty when he helped carry out the conspiracy between November 2008 and October 2012, according to a court document and a news release.

Helton met a man who was not incarcerated, Jason Tyre, through a prison pen-pal program and recruited him into a scheme to submit false federal tax returns using other people’s Social Security numbers and other identifying information.

Helton “cynically manipulated” Tyre by encouraging his hopes of companionship with Helton after prison, Assistant U.S. Attorney Neeraj Gupta said in one motion.

Helton admitted he obtained personal information from other inmates without their knowledge and sent the information to Tyre to use in the false returns, according to a news release.

Helton directed Tyre to file false returns and set up bank accounts to receive refunds, then wire the money to others in the conspiracy.

Helton pleaded guilty to aggravated identity theft and conspiracy to commit wire fraud and mail fraud.

Helton and Tyre were charged with Avril Lake and Brittany “Diamond” Gambrel.

Tyre and Lake have pleaded guilty but have not been sentenced. Charges against Gambrel are pending.