Self Proclaimed "First Lady" Of Tax Fraud Sentenced To 21 Years
Tampa, FL - U.S. District Judge James S. Moody, Jr. today sentenced Rashia Wilson (27, formerly of Wimauma) to 19 ½ years in federal prison on wire fraud and aggravated identity theft charges stemming from her scheme to defraud the IRS, and to a consecutive 18 months in federal prison for being a felon in possession of a firearm. The court also ordered Wilson to forfeit $2,240,096.39, which constitute the proceeds traceable to the offense. Wilson pleaded guilty to being a felon in possession of a firearm(s) on December 6, 2012. She pleaded guilty to the wire fraud and aggravated identity theft counts on April 3, 2013.
"Today's sentencing was a result of criminal actions by Rashia Wilson and sends a strong message to others who file false tax returns with stolen identities, that they will face severe consequences," says James Robnett, Special Agent in Charge for the IRS-Criminal Investigation. "These crimes victimize the most venerable of our fellow citizens; the elderly, our youth and family members of the deceased. IRS-CI and its Tampa Bay Alliance partners, along with the US Attorney's Office, will continue to vigorously investigate these crimes."
“Ms. Wilson’s sentence today is an indication of how the courts look upon identity theft," stated John Joyce, Special Agent in Charge for the U.S. Secret Service - Tampa. "To those who venture down the same road, know that you will be caught, and you will be severely punished. The judge’s message is crystal clear.”
"The Inspection Service is committed to preventing the use of the U.S. Mail in criminal schemes and collaborating with sister law enforcement agencies to successfully prosecute responsible parties," said Assistant Inspector in Charge Barney Morris. "The culmination of the Rashia Wilson investigation reflects what can happen when local, state and federal law enforcement agencies work collaboratively to combat these types of crimes."
“There are some in the community who think they can commit tax fraud and get away with it. Those days are over! This case is just an example of the consequences violators will face when they try to steal from hard working taxpayers,” said Tampa Police Chief Jane Castor.
"The success of this investigation was a result of the various agencies working together. This case represents one of the worst tax fraud cases in the Tampa Bay area and the outcome should send a clear message to others that this type of criminal activity will not be tolerated in our community," said Colonel Donna Lusczynski of the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office.
According to court documents, from at least April 2009, through their arrests in September 2012, Rashia Wilson and her co-conspirator, Maurice J. Larry, engaged in a scheme to defraud the Internal Revenue Service by negotiating fraudulently obtained tax refunds. They did so by receiving U.S. Treasury checks and pre-paid debit cards that were loaded with proceeds derived from filing false and fraudulent federal income tax returns in other persons' names, without those persons’ permission or knowledge. Wilson and Larry filed these false and fraudulent federal income tax returns from multiple locations, including Wilson's residence and hotels in the Tampa area. Wilson, Larry, and others then used these fraudulently obtained tax refunds to make hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of retail purchases, to purchase money orders, and to withdraw cash.
During the course of the investigation, agents searched Wilson's residence and Larry's storage unit and recovered thousands of names and social security numbers in ledgers and on various other records, including medical billing records. Agents also found high end accessories, jewelry, and a hand gun in Wilson's home. Additional reloadable debit cards loaded with fraudulent tax refunds were also found in both locations.
Law enforcement officials also discovered that Wilson, who referred to herself as the "First Lady" and "Queen of Tax Fraud," spent $30,000 on her daughter's first birthday party and purchased a 2013 Audi valued at approximately $90,000, using the proceeds of the tax fraud scheme. The government seized the Audi and other items during the course of the investigation. The IRS estimates that the actual loss from Wilson and Larry's scheme is at least $3,147,477, and the intended loss is in excess of $11 million.
Maurice Larry is set for sentencing in this matter on August 6, 2013.
This case was investigated by the Internal Revenue Service - Criminal Investigation, the United States Secret Service, the United States Postal Inspection Service, the Tampa Police Department, and the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office. It was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Sara C. Sweeney and Mandy Riedel.