Former Ocala Police Officer Sentenced For Participating In Tax Fraud
Tampa, FL - U.S. District Judge Mary S. Scriven sentenced former Ocala Police Officer Dana Brown (37, Ocala) to 6 years and 5 months in federal prison for conspiracy to make false claims, aggravated identity theft, and exceeding authorized access to a protected computer with intent to defraud. The court also ordered Brown to pay restitution in the amount of $874,319.35 to the Internal Revenue Service.
Brown pled guilty on December 20, 2011.
According to court documents, in 2010 and 2011, Brown was employed as a patrol officer for the Ocala Police Department. As part of his employment as a law enforcement officer, Brown had access to the Florida Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles Driver and Vehicle Information Database (“DAVID”). DAVID allows law enforcement officers to retrieve driver and vehicle information for official law enforcement purposes.
During the same time period, Brown was acquainted with Riad Sulaiman, owner of Empire Street Wear, a clothing store located in Tampa. Brown was aware that Sulaiman was in possession of fraudulently obtained U.S. Treasury tax refund checks in the names of various individuals. In order to negotiate the Treasury checks, check cashing businesses and banks typically require personal identification. For that reason, Sulaiman elicited the help of Brown, as Brown had access to personal identifying information by way of his access to DAVID. Brown knowingly and willingly entered into an agreement with Sulaiman and supplied personal identifying information of Florida Driver License holders for the purpose of negotiating the fraudulently obtained Treasury checks. Per the agreement, Brown was to be paid 5% of the face value of each Treasury check.
Brown was arrested in October 2011. After being advised of his Miranda Rights, Brown admitted to exceeding his authorized access to DAVID by querying names in DAVID for Sulaiman. This case was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation. It was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Amanda C. Kaiser.
It was brought as part of Operation Rainmaker, an initiative dedicated to combating the growing problem of identity theft and the fraudulent filing of electronic tax claims. This initiative is coordinated and implemented with the cooperation of the U.S. Attorney’s Office, Middle District of Florida, U.S. Secret Service, U.S. Postal Inspection Service, Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigation Division, Federal Bureau of Investigation, and Tampa Police Department.