News and Press Releases

Four Floridians in Fraudulent Prisoner Income Tax Refund Scheme Sentenced To Prison

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
July 2, 2013

PENSACOLA, FLORIDA – United States Attorney Pamela C. Marsh announced that the sentencing of four Floridians by Chief U. S. District Judge M. Casey Rodgers concluded today with the last defendant.   William Scott Folk (36) and Christopher Jesse Lee (35) both currently incarcerated with the Florida Department of Corrections, Cora Beard (68) of Morriston, and Gail Anita Moss (60) of Miami Gardens were all sentenced to prison time following their previously entered guilty pleas to charges of conspiracy to defraud the government with respect to claims and conspiracy to commit mail fraud.  Beard and Moss were also sentenced as a result of additional counts of filing false claims against the government, theft from the government, and aggravated identity theft

            The sentences for each defendant are as follows:

  • Christopher Jesse Lee was sentenced to 120 months in prison which is to run consecutively to the state of Florida sentence he is now serving and was ordered to pay restitution to the Internal Revenue Service in the amount of $435,130;
  • Cora Beard was sentenced to 33 months in prison and was ordered to pay restitution to the Internal Revenue Service in the amount of $580,884;
  • Gail Anita Moss was sentenced to 25 months in prison and was ordered to pay restitution to the Internal Revenue Service in the amount of $156,410; and
  • William Scott Folk was sentenced to 120 months in prison and was ordered to pay restitution to the Internal Revenue Service in the amount of $580,884.

United States Attorney Pamela Marsh said, “Defrauding the government, abusing the identity of American citizens and undermining the public’s trust in the system will not be taken lightly by this office. We will prosecute these types of criminals with extreme prejudice and the penalties for those convicted will be severe.”

            All four defendants were sentenced after pleading guilty in March of this year 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 using the identities of other individuals who were not incarcerated.  As part of this scheme, Beard and 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 fraudulent IRS refund checks would be mailed to them.  The co-conspirators were indicted January 2012, and all pled guilty to their involvement in the fraudulent income tax scheme, and are serving sentences of between 5 and 10 years.  During the course of the scheme, the defendants and others filed and caused to be filed approximately three hundred and forty-four false and fraudulent federal income tax returns, which falsely claimed approximately $1,656,721 in false, fictitious, and fraudulent refunds from the United States.

            "IRS Criminal Investigation has made investigating refund fraud and identity theft a top priority” stated James D. Robnett, Special Agent in Charge of the Tampa Field Office.  “Filing fraudulent tax returns in the names of other individuals is a significant harm to those individuals whose identities were stolen, as well as a monetary loss against the U.S. Treasury, and abuses the system in which the taxpaying public places its trust.  IRS will continue to bring these violators to justice to strengthen the public’s trust and confidence in the integrity of the tax system."

The case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Tiffany H. Eggers and Randall J. Hensel 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 investigation is the result of an investigation by the Internal Revenue Service – Criminal Investigations with the support of the Florida Department of Corrections.

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