Skip to main content
Press Release

Sarasota Man Sentenced To Nearly Five Years For Role In Stolen Identity Refund Fraud Scheme

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

Tampa, Florida – U.S. District Judge Elizabeth A. Kovachevich has sentenced Obenson Cerulist (27, Sarasota) to 4 years and 11 months in federal prison for theft of government property. He pleaded guilty on April 24, 2017.


According to court documents, in September 2013, a search warrant was executed at a home in Bradenton that Cerulist was sharing with Brandon Taylor. During the search, more than 250 items of personal identifying information (PII) belonging to others were found in the home. In February 2014, a second search warrant was executed at the home of Cerulist’s girlfriend, Loretta Gilchrist, where Cerulist occasionally stayed. PII was also found in Gilchrest’s home, along with prepaid debit cards and additional evidence linking Cerulist to the filing of fraudulent tax returns.


The direct loss to the Internal Revenue Service from fraudulent tax returns filed during the course of this scheme was $156,399.39. The total amount claimed as a result of fraudulent tax returns was $571,708.


Taylor and Gilchrist were also prosecuted for their roles in this scheme. On August 2, 2016, Taylor was sentenced to 32 months in federal prison for theft of government funds, and on February 28, 2017, Gilchrist was sentenced to 30 months for the same offense.


This case was investigated by Internal Revenue Service – Criminal Investigation. It was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Adam M. Saltzman.

Updated August 29, 2017

Financial Fraud
Identity Theft