Four More Indicted In Fraudulent Prisoner Income Tax Refund Scheme
PENSACOLA – Four Floridians have been federally indicted for their involvement in a fraudulent prisoner income tax refund scheme. The indictment of Cora Beard (68) of Morriston, William Scott Folk (36) and Christopher Jesse Lee (35) both currently incarcerated in the Florida Department of Corrections, and Gail Anita Moss (60) of Miami Gardens was announced today by Pamela C. Marsh, United States Attorney for the Northern District of Florida. Count One charges all four defendants with conspiracy to defraud the government with respect to claims, and Count Two charges all four defendants with conspiracy to commit mail fraud. Cora Beard and Gail Anita Moss are also charged with seven counts of filing false claims against the government and seven counts of theft from the government. The indictment also charges Beard with one count of aggravated identity theft, and Moss with two counts of aggravated identity theft.
The indictment alleges that beginning around January 2006, the four 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, Cora Beard and Gail Anita Moss used their home addresses, as well as the home addresses of previously indicted co-conspirators Mary Blair, Thomas Rabeau, Nikki Kight, Elton Blair and others, so IRS refund checks would be mailed to them. The other co-conspirators were indicted last January, and all pled guilty for their involvement in the fraudulent income tax scheme. For her involvement in the scheme, Mary Blair was sentenced to 52 months in prison, Thomas Rabeau was sentenced to 24 months in prison, and a fifth co-conspirator, Carter Hassman, who was already serving a sentence in the Florida Department of Corrections, was sentenced to 10 years in prison.
It is further alleged in the indictment that, during the course of the scheme, the defendants and others filed and caused to be filed approximately 344 false and fraudulent federal income tax returns, which falsely claimed approximately $1,656,721 in false, fictitious, and fraudulent refunds from the United States. A copy of the indictment is attached.
Trial will be scheduled before Chief United States District Judge M. Casey Rodgers. If convicted, each defendant faces a maximum of ten years in prison for each of Counts One and Two. For the counts of filing false claims against the government, Cora Beard and Gail Anita Moss face up to five years in prison on each of their seven counts. For the counts of theft from the government, Cora Beard and Gail Anita Moss face up to ten years in prison on each of their seven counts. For the counts of aggravated identity theft, Cora Beard and Gail Anita Moss face a minimum mandatory sentence of two years imprisonment on each count, which must be run consecutively to any other sentence imposed.
The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Tiffany Eggers as part of a Department of Justice initiative to fight stolen identity refund fraud (SIRF). In September 2012, the Department issued Tax Division Directive 144, which sets forth expedited Department review procedures for SIRF cases, enabling law enforcement to respond quickly and effectively to the grave challenges presented in SIRF cases and to prevent the victimization of innocent taxpayers whose identities are stolen by fraudsters. The indictment is the result of an investigation by the Internal Revenue Service – Criminal Investigations.
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.