- Associated Press - Sunday, February 15, 2015

PHOENIX (AP) - A Phoenix woman has pleaded guilty to orchestrating a scheme to defraud the U.S. government that involved northern New York residents.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office in the Northern District of New York says 34-year-old Elaine Monique Zavala-Charres made the plea agreement Friday in federal court in Utica.

Zavala-Charres is pleading guilty to mail fraud and aggravated identity theft.

Prosecutors say 27-year-old Lacey Hollinger, of Massena, New York, reached out to unemployed residents in 2011 and 2012, telling them they were eligible for a tax refund.

Hollinger and Zavala-Charres used the personal identity information they received to generate false tax returns and had $260,000 in refunds deposited in bank accounts in Arizona.

Zavala-Charres is scheduled to be sentenced June 10. She faces up to 22 years in prison.

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