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A Georgia man pleaded guilty in federal court to using dozens of stolen identities, including some from Cole County, to file fraudulent tax returns seeking $258,063 in refunds.

Jalen Ortez Gude, 40, pleaded guilty to one count of wire fraud and one count of identity theft.

Gude admitted, between January 2014 and March 13, 2015, he used the stolen identity information of at least 46 victims — including their names, Social Security numbers and dates of birth — to file fraudulent tax returns and receive tax refunds from the federal government and the state of Missouri.

According to court documents, those victims included residents of Cole County whose stolen identity information had been released over the Internet.

The IRS stopped $94,592 in refunds from being processed; as a result, the aggregate amount of restitution due is approximately $163,470 to 10 of Gude's victims.

Gude opened bank accounts in the names of his identity theft victims so the IRS and the Missouri Department of Revenue would transfer the refunds to bank accounts he controlled. This process permitted Gude to remain anonymous and to conduct his scheme, in part, from outside Missouri.

Gude also used the stolen identity information to submit fraudulent online credit applications at banks and credit card companies.

Under federal statute, Gude is subject to a sentence of up to 20 years in federal prison without parole for wire fraud, plus a mandatory consecutive sentence of two years in federal prison without parole for identity theft. A sentencing hearing will be scheduled after the completion of a pre-sentence investigation by the U.S. Probation Office.

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