TWO MEN SENTENCED FOR ARSON OF TAX PREPARATION AND LOAN FINANCING CENTER
July 28, 2011
ATLANTA, GA - NOELAN DUDLEY, 26, of Lithonia, Georgia, and BRANDON DOBBS, 25, of Decatur, Georgia, were sentenced today by United States District Judge Charles A. Pannell, Jr. on charges relating to the arson of a tax preparation and loan finance business in a DeKalb County strip mall.
United States Attorney Sally Quillian Yates said that “This case involves an employee who was so intent on covering up a tax fraud scheme that he and his accomplice almost blew up a small shopping center. Their reckless and dangerous action cost other victims two million dollars, burned one of the defendants and very well could have taken innocent lives.”
ATF Special Agent in Charge Gregory Gant said, “Significant arson problems plague the United States; there is public outcry among community leaders, churches and organizations throughout the U.S. for arson awareness, prevention and successful prosecution of arson crimes. With the assistance of other federal agencies and the United states Attorney's Office, the responsible parties have been identified and are being held accountable for their illegal and dangerous actions. These cases are extremely intricate and complex and could not be investigated with utilizing a cohesive team approach.”
Reginael D. McDaniel, Special Agent in Charge of IRS Criminal Investigation said, “Anyone who would be willing to intentionally destroy property by fire in an attempt to conceal a tax fraud scheme should be held accountable for their actions. In order for a tax fraud scheme to ultimately work, individuals must send their fraudulent tax returns to the IRS for payment, which are then maintained by the IRS for the record. I would like to warn anyone contemplating similar actions that IRS Criminal Investigators have the ability to trace and reconstruct evidence in tax fraud schemes.”
DeKalb County Fire Chief Edward O'Brien said, “It is encouraging to see that all the efforts of the combined investigation have resulted in the conviction of the responsible parties. Arson fires are on the rise, and the potential to injure emergency personnel and civilians along with the interruption to the community simply cannot be tolerated.”
DUDLEY was sentenced to serve 5 years in federal prison, to be followed by 3 years of supervised release, and pay restitution in the amount of approximately $2.16 million.
DOBBS was sentenced to serve 3 years, 1 month in federal prison to be followed by 3 years of supervised release, as well as pay restitution in the amount of approximately $2.16 million. Both defendants pleaded guilty to the charges in late April 2011.
According to United States Attorney Yates, the charges and other information presented in court: During the early morning hours of February 25, 2008, DUDLEY, an assistant manager of World Finance, with the help of an unemployed co-conspirator, BRANDON DOBBS, set fire to the offices at “World Finance,” a tax preparation and loan finance business located in a strip mall at 5231-C Memorial Drive. The fire and a resulting explosion caused more than $2,000,000 in damage to the other tenants of the strip mall and nearby buildings. Federal agents determined that the motive was to conceal a fraudulent tax filing scheme which involved DUDLEY, who was an assistant manager at World Finance, and a former manager who was fired four days prior to the arson because the company had begun to discover financial irregularities.
While investigating the arson case, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) and the DeKalb County Fire Department obtained video from nearby surveillance cameras which showed a vehicle dropping off an individual who then used a key to enter the front door of World Finance. Gasoline was used to set the fire. The cameras also captured the fuel-air explosion that occurred after the fire was set while one of the defendants was still inside of the building. ATF and DeKalb County Fire Department then began searching area hospitals for recent burn victims and ATF agents discovered DOBBS in the burn unit of a local hospital. Fortunately, no one else was inside the building at the time of the fire. ATF agents interviewed DOBBS, analyzed his cell telephone, and discovered that there were several calls between DOBBS and DUDLEY. ATF later learned that DUDLEY boasted to a civilian that he and another person set the fire, with DUDLEY sharing details that only someone familiar with the setting of the fire would know.
This case was investigated by Special Agents of the ATF, Investigators of the DeKalb County Fire Department and Special Agents of the Internal Revenue Service-Criminal Investigation.
Assistant United States Attorney Joseph Plummer prosecuted the case.
For further information please contact Sally Q. Yates, United States Attorney, or Charysse L. Alexander, Executive Assistant United States Attorney, through Patrick Crosby, Public Affairs Officer, U.S. Attorney's Office, at (404) 581-6016. The Internet address for the HomePage for the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Northern District of Georgia is www.justice.gov/usao/gan