Federal authorities have arrested 24 Tennessee Internal Revenue Service employees for theft after the current and former employees were caught stealing government benefits. The IRS employees stole more than $250,000 in government benefits combined.
According to the Tennessean, 13 Memphis, Tenn.-based IRS employees were federally charged with illegally receiving government benefits including unemployment, food stamps and housing vouchers. Eleven more IRS employees were indicted on state charges of theft greater than $1,000.
The Associated Press states that the IRS employees indicted under felony charges could face up to five years in prison for lying to receive benefits. The employees had been receiving benefits illegally as far back as 2006.
“According to the allegations in the indictments, while these IRS employees were supposed to be serving the public, they were instead brazenly stealing from law-abiding American taxpayers,” U.S. Attorney Edward L. Stanton III said in a statement to the Washington Examiner. “These charges demonstrate our unwavering resolve to work with our law enforcement partners and hold accountable anyone who fraudulently obtains government benefits and violates the public’s trust.”
The charges were brought as a part of a wide-ranging plan called “Operation Double Dip,” the Tennessean notes. Led by the U.S. Treasury Inspector General for Tax administration, the investigation targets IRS employees who have illegally lied about their status in order to receive government benefits.
In a similar “Operation Double Dip” case, four former IRS employees were arrested in Indianapolis after illegally continuing their unemployment collections when they became employed.