IRS employee scams government $1.7M, now charged with ID theft

FRESNO, Calif.

Monica Nanette Hernandez, 41, is charged with a new count of identity theft, after admitting to filing false tax returns, identity theft, and wire fraud while she worked at the IRS.

Hernandez was a data entry clerk, and she admitted to stealing 68 paper tax returns at the Fresno service center. She used the information to file fake returns electronically, with her receiving the cash. But even before she got her punishment, she picked up a new felony case.

The case was all but closed. Monica Hernandez admitted to filing $1.7 million in false tax returns and stealing hundreds of thousands of dollars from the government through her job at the IRS.

Hernandez was caught in 2011, agreed to a plea deal in 2013, and was about to find out how much prison time she'd do next week. But then a former neighbor realized something strange was happening to her finances.

She hired attorney Marc Kapetan to clear things up with banks.

"As we were speaking to Bank of America, the representative said, 'Oh my gosh, there's activity going on right now,'" Kapetan said.

Kapetan knew somebody was stealing the woman's identity, and as much as $9,000 of her money, but he didn't know who was doing it. His suspicions peaked when a Google search revealed who used to live next door to his client.

"Ex-IRS worker admits to stealing $1.7 million in fake refunds," he said, reading a headline he found. "Monica Hernandez. And all the sudden all the lights starting going off."

Store video showed a woman resembling Hernandez using fraudulent credit cards and she was arrested again on Friday. Hernandez faced five to 20 years in federal prison before picking up 10 new felony charges.

ABC30 legal analyst Tony Capozzi says the judge could use the new case as a reason to be harsh.

"Clearly she hadn't learned her lesson after committing the first offense and accepting responsibility for what she did," he said. "There's going to be punishment for that."

Action News reached out to Hernandez's attorney Monday. Carol Moses told us all she knows is her client will plead not guilty to all the new charges.

Hernandez is due in state court Tuesday, then back in federal court next week.

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