A tearful apology didn’t persuade a federal judge on Thursday to show leniency to a Billings woman who admitted using identities of dead people to file false tax returns and get refunds.
“I am so sorry for my bad behavior. I have so many amends to make,” said Shannon Kathlina Grimm, 41.
Crying as she apologized to the court and to family members and friends, Grimm said, “I know I can be a good person. You will not see me again. I will not be in trouble again, I promise you.”
But Chief U.S. District Judge Richard Cebull told Grimm she deserved more time on top of what she has already spent locked up while the case was pending and sentenced her to four years and three months. The term was at the high end of the guideline range, which started at 41 months.
Cebull also ordered her to pay $129,498 restitution to the IRS.
“Obviously, Ms. Grimm has little, if any, respect for the law,” Cebull said. He noted Grimm’s state conviction for issuing bad checks and her violation of a deferred sentence. She was on probation when she committed the federal fraud crimes, he said.
Grimm pleaded guilty in April to wire fraud and to false claims. She admitted to filing at least 90 false returns and receiving $129,498 in refunds from the IRS.
The scheme, Grimm told the judge earlier, came from doing genealogy research. Grimm filed returns using Social Security numbers and birthdates of deceased people whose information she found on the Internet while doing research, she said.
Prosecutor Bryan Whittaker said Grimm filed false returns seeking a total of $402,833, and actually received $129,498, which she laundered through accounts of others to whom she paid a fee to avoid getting caught.
Cebull dismissed six other counts.