- Associated Press - Saturday, July 18, 2015

SAVANNAH, Ga. (AP) - Federal prosecutors say a former coastal Georgia pastor has been sentenced to more than nine years in prison in a tax fraud scheme.

Authorities said Friday that Xavier Franklin Lewis, former pastor at Holy Ghost Praise and Deliverance Ministries, was sentenced to 119 months in prison on charges of submitting false claims to the IRS, theft of public funds, aggravated identity theft, bank fraud and operation of an unlicensed money transmitting business.

Prosecutors say Lewis obtained more than 90 fraudulent tax refund checks that were generated by either submitting fraudulent income tax information to the IRS or by stealing returns from the mail before they reached their final destination.

Authorities say Lewis stole more than $250,000 in the scheme.

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