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Justice News

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

Friday, March 8, 2013

Former NFL Player Freddie Mitchell Pleads Guilty To Federal Tax Fraud Conspiracy

Orlando, Florida - United States Attorney Robert E. O'Neill announces that Freddie L. Mitchell II (34, Lakeland) pleaded guilty today to conspiracy to file a false tax claim with the government. Mitchell faces a maximum penalty of 10 years in federal prison. A sentencing date has not yet been. Two co-defendants, Jamie Russ-Walls and Richard Walls, already have been sentenced in the case.

According to the plea agreement, on November 30, 2009, Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigation (IRS-CI) determined that a fraudulent 2008 Form 1040 claiming a $1,968,288 tax refund had been filed in the name of a professional athlete (A.G). Agents soon learned that A.G. had been introduced by Mitchell to a former IRS employee, Jamie Russ-Walls. A.G. had been told by Mitchell that Jamie Russ-Walls could help A.G. get extra money back from the IRS.

At the end of July 2009, Jamie Russ-Walls and Richard Walls flew to Orlando and met with A.G. and Mitchell. Jamie Russ-Walls indicated that she and her husband worked in the tax preparation business. After providing copies of his tax records to the couple, A.G. was told that he could get additional money back from the IRS because of "grey areas" in his tax returns. A.G. eventually made a $100,000 down payment to Mitchell towards the tax preparation fee. Mitchell then split the fee with Jamie Russ-Walls and Richard Walls.

Without A.G.'s knowledge, Mitchell, Jamie Russ-Walls and Richard Walls then electronically submitted a fraudulent 2008 Form 1040 in A.G.'s name to the IRS. The form included false business losses totaling $5,367,775, resulting in a fraudulent refund of $1,968,288. A.G. never had any involvement in these businesses and never had provided the information on the tax schedule to Mitchell, Jamie Russ-Walls, or Richard Walls. The false return also had included other paperwork asking the IRS to direct deposit the refund into the bank accounts of Mitchell and Jamie Russ-Walls. A.G. subsequently learned of the fraudulent activity when the IRS rejected his regular tax return that was filed in October 2009. The IRS was then able to cancel payment on the fraudulent return.

Agents also discovered five additional false 2009 returns totaling $2,264,005 that had been submitted by Mitchell, Jamie Russ-Walls and Richard Walls. Each of these claims had been accompanied by false W-2 forms showing wages in the millions of dollars from Chameleon Enterprises, LLC. Mitchell had incorporated this business in 2003, listed himself as the manager, and opened a mailbox in Kathleen, Florida, to receive correspondence. When contacted by the IRS about the wages allegedly paid to these five individuals, Mitchell falsely verified their employment and income. Records checks later revealed that Chameleon actually had been dissolved as a corporation by the State of Florida in 2007. It did not, therefore, pay any wages in 2009.

Jamie Russ-Walls and Richard Walls previously pleaded guilty for their roles in this case. On February 14, 2013, Richard Walls was sentenced to 3 years and 1 month in federal prison. Jamie Russ-Walls was sentenced on February 1, 2013, to a term of 5 years of probation.

This case was investigated by IRS-CI. It is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Robert E. Bodnar, Jr.

Updated January 26, 2015