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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Middle District of Florida

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Former Corrections Officer Sentenced for Prison Tax Refund Scheme

Jacksonville, Florida – United States Senior District Judge Henry Lee Adams, Jr. has sentenced Silvester L. Bowens (49, Jacksonville) to one year and one day in federal prison for conspiracy to defraud the United States and for receiving stolen property of the United States, namely tax refunds in excess of $1,000. He was also ordered to serve a 2-year term of supervised release and to pay the Internal Revenue Service $41,989.17 in restitution. Bowens pleaded guilty on July 1, 2014.

According to court documents, between January 2009 and December 2011, while working with inmates inside a State of Florida prison as a Wellness Director, Bowens participated in a tax refund scheme in which he assisted inmates in removing fraudulently filed tax returns from inside the prison. Bowens opened bank accounts in his name to receive the refunds from the fraudulent returns. As a result of the scheme, more than 40 fraudulent tax returns were filed, directing $386,471 into accounts held by Bowens.

Bowens, along with five others, was indicted in April 2014. Each of the six individuals subsequently pleaded guilty for their respective roles in the scheme. Co-conspirators Tiffani Manning, Christopher Wyant, and Tabatha Dubois were previously sentenced. The sentencing hearings for the remaining defendants, Laura Wright and Chad R. Heins, are scheduled for August 11, 2015.

The case was investigated by the Internal Revenue Service - Criminal Investigation and the Florida Department of Corrections.  Assistant United States Attorney Kelly S. Karase is handling the prosecution of this case.

Updated July 1, 2015