OAKLAND -- A Pleasanton woman was sentenced to 27 months in prison Monday for filing a series of fake tax returns and lying to a judge about receiving breast cancer treatment to achieve a more lenient sentence, attorneys said.

Denise LaShawn Reed, 45, pleaded guilty to one of 14 counts of filing false claims to the Internal Revenue Service, and received three years of supervised release in addition to her prison sentence, United States Attorney Melinda Haag said. Her sentence was extended after a judge discovered she had forged documents claiming proceedings would interfere with cancer treatment despite being free of the disease.

Prosecutors said that between January 2009 and February 2010, Reed filed 14 fraudulent income tax claims totaling $94,700 using a series of women's names that were not hers. All of the returns were filed electronically, claimed "single" as filing status, claimed to have no dependents, and applied the standard deduction. The returns did not indicate the name of the preparer, claim business or other income, and had unsubstantiated Form 1099 withholding, attorneys said.

According to Haag, Reed reported earned income for a business that investigators discovered she did not own or operate, and received tax refunds into Bank of America accounts or debit cards in the name of Savana Jones. Reed then used the money to pay personal expenses to US Airways, Southwest Airlines, Wynn Hotel Las Vegas, Furniture Gallery and her daughter's school.


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While investigators were able to confirm that one of the Social Security numbers belonged to a person Reed lived with at the time, it remains unknown how she had the other identities in her possession, Haag said. She electronically filed the returns under five other names; Brooke Nicholson, Denise Berry, Neyce Roberts, Savana Jones and Lauren Roberts, the name she greeted federal agents with when they served a search warrant on her Pleasanton home.

Reed also tried to manipulate the judge into giving her a more lenient sentence by forging a letter on Stanford Hospital letterhead stating that incarceration would interfere with her breast cancer treatment, Haag said. When authorities discovered the document to be fake, a judge found her guilty of obstructing justice and increased her sentence accordingly.

Reed was taken into custody, where her prison sentence began effective immediately.

Contact Erin Ivie at eivie@bayareanewsgroup.com. Follow her at Twitter.com/erin_ivie.