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Press Release

Riverview Woman Pleads Guilty to Tax Fraud Conspiracy and Aggravated Identity Theft

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Middle District of Florida

Tampa, Florida - United States Attorney Robert E. O'Neill announces that Carlista Hawls pleaded guilty today to one count of conspiracy to defraud the Internal Revenue Service, wire fraud, and theft of government funds and one count of aggravated identity theft. Hawls faces a maximum penalty of 5 years in federal prison for the conspiracy charge and a consecutive 2-year mandatory minimum term of imprisonment for the aggravated identity theft charge.

According to the plea agreement, between January and August 2012, Hawls engaged in a scheme with other individuals to file false income tax returns with the IRS. The returns were filed in order to obtain fraudulent refunds to which the conspirators were not owed. The conspirators used the personal information of others to electronically file approximately 217 false and fraudulent federal income tax returns. In many cases, the individuals whose information appeared on these fraudulent filed returns did not know that Hawls and her co-conspirators were filing the returns on their behalf. In total, these 217 fraudulent returns claimed approximately $1,554,493.00 in bogus tax refunds. Ultimately, the IRS paid out $551,472.90 in refunds to the conspirators.

This case was investigated by the Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigation and the Federal Bureau of Investigation. It is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Simon Gaugush.

Updated January 26, 2015