Dominican Republic National Sentenced To Federal Prison For Passport Fraud And Aggravated Identity Theft
Tampa, Florida – U.S. District Judge James S. Moody yesterday sentenced Rashia Wilson (29, formerly of Wimauma) to 21 years in federal prison for wire fraud, aggravated identity theft, and being a felon in possession of firearms. The Court also ordered her to forfeit $2,240,096.39, which constitutes the proceeds traceable to the offense.
Wilson pleaded guilty to the felon-in-possession charge in on December 6, 2012, and later to the wire fraud and aggravated identity theft counts pursuant to a plea agreement on April 3, 2013. She was initially sentenced on July 16, 2013, after which she appealed. The Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals granted her a re-sentencing following the appeal.
According to court documents, from at least April 2009, through September 2012, Wilson and her co-conspirator, Maurice J. Larry, engaged in a scheme to defraud the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) by negotiating fraudulently obtained tax refunds. They did so by receiving U.S. Treasury checks and pre-paid debit cards that were loaded with proceeds derived from filing false and fraudulent federal income tax returns in other individuals' names, without their permission or knowledge. Wilson and Larry filed these tax returns from multiple locations, including Wilson's residence and hotels in the Tampa area. Wilson, Larry, and others then used these fraudulently obtained tax refunds to make hundreds of thousands of dollars of retail purchases, to purchase money orders, and to withdraw cash.
During the course of the investigation, agents searched Wilson's residence and Larry's storage unit, where they recovered thousands of names and social security numbers found in ledgers, and on various other records, including medical billing records. Agents also found high-end accessories, jewelry, and a handgun in Wilson's home. Further, additional reloadable debit cards loaded with fraudulent tax refunds were found in both locations.
Law enforcement also discovered that Wilson, who referred to herself as the "First Lady" and "Queen of Tax Fraud," had spent $30,000 on her daughter's first birthday party and had purchased a 2013 Audi valued at approximately $90,000, both of which had been funded by the proceeds of the tax fraud scheme. The government seized this vehicle and other items during the course of the investigation. The IRS estimates that the actual loss from Wilson and Larry's scheme is at least $3,147,477, and the intended loss was in excess of $11 million.
This case was investigated by the Internal Revenue Service - Criminal Investigation, the United States Secret Service, the United States Postal Inspection Service, the Tampa Police Department, and the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office. It was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Amanda L. Riedel and Sara C. Sweeney. The appeal was handled by Assistant United States Attorney Peter J. Sholl.