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Press Release

Tampa Mother Sentenced For Tax Fraud Conspiracy Along With Her Sons

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

Tampa, Florida – U.S. District Judge James D. Whittemore has sentenced Elise Ellis to 18 months in federal prison and 6 months’ home detention for conspiracy to commit tax fraud and aggravated identity theft. As part of her sentence, the Court also entered a joint and several money judgement in the amount of $221,000, representing the proceeds of the tax fraud conspiracy. Ellis pleaded guilty on January 3, 2017.


Her sons, Keith Godbolt and Paul Johnson, were previously sentenced to four years and three years and six months, respectively, for their roles in this case.

According to court documents, from August 2011 through April 2013, Ellis, Godbolt, and Johnson conspired to commit wire fraud, theft of government property, and identity theft by electronically filing fraudulent tax returns in the names of others, using their social security numbers. The fraudulent tax refunds were directed to bank accounts in the defendants’ names, or in some cases, to debit cards that they controlled. Ellis and her sons then withdrew the fraudulent refunds by writing checks or otherwise transferring funds to each other through bank transfers or cash withdrawals.


Most of the fraudulently filed tax returns claimed unusually high taxable interest or dividend income, many using the exact same figure, with a large withholding amount, and a false occupation listed for the taxpayer. Many of the victims were deceased when their false tax return was filed.


This case was investigated by Internal Revenue Service – Criminal Investigation. It was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Kelley C. Howard-Allen.

Updated March 22, 2017

Financial Fraud
Identity Theft