Five Indicted For Fraudulent Prisoner Income Tax Refund Scheme
PENSACOLA, FLORIDA – Five Floridians have been federally indicted for their involvement in a fraudulent prisoner income tax refund scheme. The Indictment of Mary Hobbs Blair (62) of Cantonment, Thomas Rabeau (62) of Brandon, Carter Hassman (49) currently in Santa Rosa County, Nikki Kight (44) of Cantonment, and Michael “Elton” Blair (43) of Gulf Breeze was announced today by Pamela C. Marsh, United States Attorney for the Northern District of Florida. Count One charges all five defendants with conspiracy to defraud the government with respect to claims. Counts Two through Eighteen charge Mary Blair with false claims against the government. Counts Nineteen through Thirty-Five charge Mary Blair with theft from the government. Counts Thirty-Six and Thirty-Seven charge Mary Blair with aggravated identity theft.
The Indictment alleges that beginning around January 2007, the five individuals and others filed fraudulent tax returns using the names and social security numbers of inmates housed in the Florida Department of Corrections, and on occasion other individuals who were not incarcerated. As part of this scheme, Mary Blair, Thomas Rabeau, Nikki Kight and Elton Blair’s home addresses were listed on the tax returns, so IRS refund checks would be mailed to them. As part of the scheme, false and nonexistent businesses were listed as the purported employers, listing fraudulent wages and withholding amounts for time periods in which the inmates were incarcerated. It is alleged that, during the course of the scheme, the defendants and others filed and caused to be filed approximately two hundred and twenty-three false and fraudulent federal income tax returns, which falsely claimed approximately $954,795 in false, fictitious, and fraudulent refunds from the United States. A copy of the Indictment is attached hereto.
Trial before Senior U.S. District Judge Lacey A. Collier is scheduled for March 5, 2012. If convicted, each defendant faces a maximum of ten years in prison for Count One. For Counts Two through Eighteen, Mary Blair faces up to five years in prison on each count. For Counts Nineteen through Thirty-Five, Mary Blair faces up to ten years in prison on each count. For Counts Thirty-Six and Thirty-Seven, Mary Blair faces a minimum mandatory sentence of two years imprisonment on each count, which must be run consecutively to any other sentence imposed.
Linda J. Osuna, Special Agent in Charge of the Tampa Field Office for IRS Criminal Investigation (CI) stated “CI is determined to aggressively investigate and stop false tax refund schemes. It is through our cooperation with the Florida Department of Corrections and other law enforcement agencies that we are able to cooperatively combat the defrauding of the taxpaying public. Identity theft and the filing of false tax returns by incarcerated individuals are matters taken seriously by IRS. We will continue to work with the U.S. Attorney’s Office to prosecute not only those prisoners involved, but those outside of prison who endeavor to aid them in their criminal actions.”
An indictment is merely an allegation by a grand jury that a defendant has committed a violation of federal criminal law and is not evidence of guilt. All defendants are presumed innocent and entitled to a fair trial, during which it will be the Government's burden to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.