ALBANY Melody B. Milton, an Albany nurse, is accused of helping in a scheme in which the identities of area people were stolen and used to acquire more than $1.1 million through the filing of false tax returns, according to the U.S. Secret Service.
Secret Service officials, in an affadavit attached to a criminal complaint against Milton, said that about 50 pieces of mail addressed to other people were sent from the U.S. Treasury or Internal Revenue Service to an Albany post office box rented by Milton, who also is known as Melody B. Greene.
The affidavit filed by Secret Service Senior Special Agent James M. Maddux states that an individual whose name was redacted from the document deposited about 200 U.S. Treasury checks totaling $1.1 million into an Albany bank account last December.
Milton is accused of fraud in violation of Title 18 of the U.S. Code. She worked for Phoebe Home Health, but has been fired by Phoebe Putney Memorial Hospital, according to a statement from Brad Halford, the hospital’s executive vice president and chief compliance officer.
“Phoebe Putney Memorial Hospital is conducting an internal investigation in relation to a former employee charged with tax fraud, as well as implications involving a stolen laptop computer. The employee charged with tax fraud has been terminated. Phoebe officials believe the two cases are separate and unrelated, but are conducting a thorough internal investigation in cooperation with the Secret Service and U.S. Attorney’s Office on the tax fraud case,” the statement says.
“Individuals whose names and other personal information were stored in the stolen laptop will be contacted,” the hospital statement said. “At this time, there is no reason to believe that any personal information stored on the stolen laptop has been accessed. We take the protection of privacy and patient confidentiality seriously and we are following all state and federal laws and regulations in notifying any individuals potentially impacted by these events.”
Maddux, in his affadavit, said Milton was part of a scheme in which thieves used the personal information of other people to file false tax returns using the popular tax preparation software TurboTax so that the checks were sent to the same post office box.
Maddux wrote that federal agents observed Milton retrieve the checks from the post office box and then followed her to her office on 14th Avenue. The average amount of the refunds in the checks sent to Milton’s post office box was $9,500, Maddux wrote.
Maddux did not say that the identity theft victims in the case were patients of Milton, but he did note that medical patients were a common target in such fraud schemes.
“During the course of my investigation involving TurboTax fraud, numerous confidential sources, and cooperating defendants informed me that individuals who work in the medical field are often involved in this type of fraud because they have easy access to patient names, SSN’s and other personal I.D. data from their medical charts and files,” he wrote.
Milton opened a bank account as sole proprietor of “Quick Cash Check Cashing,” a business that Maddux said he had probable cause to believe was a “shell” company for “the deposit of fraudulently obtained tax refunds.”
When federal agents attempted to install a tracking device and transmitter on Milton’s vehicle, she spotted the agents, who then asked her to come with them for questioning, the affidavit states. It was then that she reportedly admitted to her involvement in the “Turbo fraud,” and promised to help federal agents “get the people involved in the scheme.”
Maddux wrote that about 50 envelopes believed to have contained fraudulent tax refund checks from the U.S. Treasury were delivered to Milton’s post office box. Thirty-six envelopes were unopened and 14 were photocopied by the post office and then delivered to the mail box. “These approximate 14 items are believed to have been picked up by Milton,” Maddux wrote.
According information from the Georgia Secretary of State’s Office, Milton was given a license as a registered nurse in 2002 and has no record of disciplinary action.
Additional information on the case and Milton remained under seal Monday, but, according to federal records, Milton is involved in a pending bankruptcy case from 2010 — her third bankruptcy case filed in federal court since 2006. The other two cases were dismissed after she was unable to fund them, a letter states.
In Georgia state courts, Melody Greene was charged with a misdemeanor count of fraud in obtaining public assistance when it was alleged that she obtained $437 in food stamps and an undisclosed amount of TANF benefits that prosecutors contended she wasn’t entitled to, according to court records.
In an agreement with then-District Attorney Ken Hodges, Greene was to repay the money and be suspended from receiving additional food stamp benefits for one year, court documents show.