Johnstown man pleads guilty to tax-related fraud

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John M. Chapman filed tax returns in the names of people with whom he went to school and worked, pocketing the resulting refunds totaling $113,000 over three years, a federal prosecutor said at the Johnstown man's guilty plea hearing today.

Mr. Chapman, 34, electronically filed 57 returns in the names of 22 victims, assistant U.S. attorney Gregory Melucci said at the hearing at the U.S. Courthouse in Pittsburgh. Of the victims, 20 were people who, like Mr. Chapman, attended the Hiram G. Andrews Center for career and life skills education for people with disabilities, in Johnstown, Mr. Melucci said.

Mr. Chapman did not believe the victims were likely to file tax returns, and used their names and social security numbers, directing the returns to accounts he controlled. He used the money to pay for living expenses, hotel rooms in Pittsburgh and Las Vegas, and a 2010 Chevrolet Camaro, Mr. Melucci told U.S. District Judge David Cercone.

An IRS fraud detection center in Cincinnati eventually noticed the unusual number of electronic filings from one Internet address, and reported it to IRS Criminal Investigations.

Mr. Chapman pleaded guilty to 25 counts of wire fraud and one count of identity theft. He was released pending sentencing July 11.

Rich Lord: or 412-263-1542. Twitter: @richelord.

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