Two Found Guilty of Tax Fraud, Wire Fraud, and Identity Theft
PANAMA CITY, FLORIDA – Following a six-day trial, a jury found Versiah M. Taylor, 33, and Tracy L. Collier, 48, guilty yesterday evening on multiple counts of tax fraud, wire fraud, and identity theft. Taylor and Collier are both from Panama City.
Evidence presented at trial proved that between September 9, 2011, and August 15, 2012, the defendants prepared and filed fraudulent tax returns seeking more than $500,000 in refunds. The defendants used the personally identifiable information (PII) of inmates of the Florida Department of Corrections, Bay County residents, and others to file fraudulent income tax returns. Collier, who was incarcerated during the conspiracy, provided the personal information of inmates by disguising the social security numbers and dates of birth as legal case citations and mailed them to Taylor. Taylor, operating out of a small office that he rented in the Steele Boys Bail Bond’s Plaza in Panama City, orchestrated the filing of multiple tax returns creating false employment information and using the PII of other individuals. These returns each claimed fraudulent refunds between $3,000 and $9,530 and were to be deposited onto prepaid debit cards, which were then mailed to various locations throughout Bay County, Florida.
Taylor and Collier each face up to 20 years in prison, a fine of up to $250,000, up to three years of supervised release, restitution, criminal forfeiture, and a $100 special monetary assessment. Additionally, for each count of aggravated identity theft, Taylor and Collier face a minimum mandatory sentence of two years in prison that is to be served consecutive to any other sentence imposed.
Sentencing for both defendants is scheduled for May 7, 2014, before United States District Judge Richard Smoak.
This case was investigated by the Internal Revenue Service – Criminal Investigation Division.
The case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Katy Risinger.