Four Plead Guilty in Fraudulent Prisoner Income Tax Refund Scheme
PENSACOLA, FLORIDA – United States Attorney Pamela C. Marsh announced today that four individuals pled guilty before Chief U. S. District Judge M. Casey Rodgers to 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 (36) both currently incarcerated with the Florida Department of Corrections, and Gail Anita Moss (60) of Miami Gardens was returned by a federal grand jury on January 15, 2013. Count One charged all four defendants with conspiracy to defraud the government with respect to claims, and Count Two charged all four defendants with conspiracy to commit mail fraud. Cora Beard and Gail Anita Moss were also charged with seven counts of filing false claims against the government and seven counts of theft from the government. The indictment also charged Beard with one count of aggravated identity theft, and Moss with two counts of aggravated identity theft.
In today’s hearing, Beard pled guilty to Counts One through Nine, Seventeen through Twenty-Three and Thirty Two; Moss pled guilty to Counts One, Two, Eleven through Sixteen, Twenty-Five through Thirty and Thirty-One through Thirty-Three; and Lee and Folk each pled guilty to Counts One and Two. All four defendants are scheduled to be sentenced on May 20, 2013, by Chief Judge Rodgers. The individuals were charged in a multi-year scheme in which they and others used the names and social security numbers of inmates incarcerated in the Florida Department of Corrections, and on occasion, other individuals who were not incarcerated, to file fraudulent tax returns. 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 in January 2012, and all pled guilty to their involvement in the fraudulent income tax scheme.
During the course of the scheme charged in the indictment, 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.
At sentencing, each defendant faces a maximum of ten years in prison for 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 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 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 was 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 investigation is the result of an investigation by the Internal Revenue Service – Criminal Investigations.