Roanoke woman pleads guilty to theft of public money, officials say

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ROANOKE, Va. (WFXR) – Representatives of the U.S. Department of Justice announced Thursday morning a Roanoke woman pleaded guilty to conspiring with others to steal federal income tax refunds to which they were not entitled from the IRS.

According to the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Western District of Virginia, 59-year-old Michelle Coppola pleaded guilty to one count of conspiring to knowingly and willfully commit the offense of theft of public money on Wednesday, Aug. 26 in the U.S. District Court in Roanoke. Officials say Coppola’s sentencing is scheduled for Nov. 13.

On Thursday, Aug. 27, the U.S. Attorney’s Office says Coppola admitted to conspiring with Osazuwa Peter Okunoghae, and other people, to steal IRS funds in the Western District of Virginia and the Eastern District of Texas from August 2012 through April 2014.

According to officials, court documents indicate Coppola knew the IRS tax refunds she was receiving were not her own, which means her receiving such refunds was illegal. However, Coppola reportedly received an approximate total of $53,470 in fraudulent IRS tax refunds.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office says the IRS conducted the investigation of the case, but Assistant U.S. Attorney Charlene R. Day for the Western District of Virginia and Assistant U.S. Attorney Nathaniel C. Kummerfield for the Eastern District of Texas are handling the prosecution of Coppola and her co-conspirators.

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