The story began in 1993, when Mellon Bank contracted with the IRS and Financial Management Service to act as a processing center for federal tax returns received in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Several years later in 2001 with a rapidly approaching April 29 deadline for processing the returns, the Mellon Bank employees had a problem. Thousands of tax returns remained to be processed and it was clear the workers could never finish the job in time. A manager with Mellon decided to solve the problem by ordering her employees simply to destroy the returns. Into the shredder went 77,000 tax returns, mostly from unsuspecting taxpayers in New England and upstate New York.
When the confetti finally settled, eight Mellon employees were criminally charged. Mellon consented to pay a tidy sum to reimburse the government for the lost interest from the time the tax returns were destroyed to when replacement returns were sent, and to cover the cost of moving the processing contracts to another company. In addition, Mellon Financial Corp. paid even more money to settle False Claims Act allegations against the company.
Now, the last remaining former Mellon Bank employee has been sentenced. Wesley Thomas, who pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit major fraud, was sentenced to two years probation and one hundred hours of community service.
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