Orange Park Man And Four Others Sentenced In Connection With Multi-Million Dollar Tax Fraud/Identity Theft Scheme
Jacksonville, Florida - United States District Judge Roy B. Dalton, Jr. sentenced Bryan Adrain Copeland (33, Orange Park) yesterday to 22 years in federal prison for wire fraud, making false statements against the United States and aggravated identity theft. Also as part of his sentence, he was ordered to pay $3,547,373.67 in restitution to the Internal Revenue Service. Copeland pled guilty on February 15, 2012.
According to court documents and evidence presented during the two days of sentencing hearings, Copeland created a scheme to defraud the Internal Revenue Service by filing fraudulent federal income tax returns using stolen identity information. The court also heard evidence concerning a February 3, 2010, incident in which Copeland fled from federal agents and attempted to toss evidence off the Dames Point Bridge from his moving vehicle. The evidence was recovered.
Four other individuals previously pled guilty for their participation in this scheme. Veronica Olivia Brown, Devron Tobey, Prientice Hooks, and Beatrice Latangela Alphonse were sentenced earlier today by Judge Dalton.
Veronica Olivia Brown (31, Jacksonville) was sentenced to 30 months in federal prison. According to court documents, Brown allowed Copeland to use her various addresses to file fraudulent returns and receive refund checks from those returns. As part of her sentence, the court ordered Brown to pay $767,555.00 in restitution to the Internal Revenue Service.
According to court records, Devron Tracy Tobey (26, Jacksonville) and Prientice Cordaemack Hooks (26, Jacksonville) assisted Copeland by opening bank accounts used to receive the proceeds of the fraud. Hooks was sentenced to 12 months and one day of imprisonment. As part of his sentence, he was ordered by the court to pay $313,822.22 in restitution to the Internal Revenue Service. Tobey was also sentenced to 12 months and one day of imprisonment. He was ordered by the court to pay $548,275.08 in restitution to the Internal Revenue Service.
Beatrice Latangela Alphonse (29, Miami) assisted Copeland in obtaining the identity information used to generate the fraudulent returns. She was sentenced to 63 months in federal prison.
In imposing the sentences, Judge Dalton noted the "extensive conspiracy orchestrated by Mr. Copeland," and stated, "It is important that the public receive the message that this kind of criminal conduct will not be accepted by the Court." The Court also commented on the "serious nature" of identity theft, and the impact of the crime on the citizens of the Middle District of Florida.
“Filing fraudulent tax returns in the names of other individuals harms those individuals whose identities were stolen, and is in essence, theft against every citizen of the United States,” said James D. Robnett, Special Agent in Charge of IRS Criminal Investigation. “IRS Criminal Investigation, along with our law enforcement partners and the United States Attorney’s Office, will remain vigilant in identifying, investigating, and prosecuting those individuals committing these despicable crimes. Let these sentences serve as a warning to those who are considering similar conduct.”
This case was investigated by the Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigation, the United States Postal Inspection Service, the Florida Department of Law Enforcement and the United States Secret Service. It was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Kathleen O'Malley.