Tax Fraudster Receives 27-Year Prison Sentence
Tampa, Florida – U.S. District Judge Charlene Honeywell has sentenced James Lee Cobb, III (37, Tampa) to 27 years in federal prison, followed by 5 years of supervised release, for conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud, wire fraud, aggravated identity theft, and for being a felon in possession of a firearm as an armed career criminal. As part of his sentence, the Court also entered a forfeiture money judgment in the amount of $1,820,759, and an order of restitution in the same amount. Cobb pleaded guilty on December 1, 2014.
According to court documents, Cobb conspired with others to use more than 7,000 stolen names, dates of birth, and Social Security numbers to file false tax returns and open pre-paid debit cards. He also obtained “burner” phones using stolen identities. From an unknown date in 2011, and continuing November 2013, Cobb and his co-conspirators filed false tax returns claiming approximately $3 million in refunds.
During the execution of a search warrant at Cobb’s residence, law enforcement officers recovered lists and medical records containing the personal identifying information of more than 7,000 victims. Many of the victims had their identities stolen from healthcare facilities, including from the James A. Haley VA hospital; the Florida Hospital (formerly known as University Community Hospital); ambulance services in Virginia, Georgia, and Texas; a local medical billing company; and court records. In addition, a number of deceased victims’ names were obtained from genealogy websites.
Officers also found two guns in the residence – a loaded handgun and an AR-15-style rifle with a fully-loaded, 30-round magazine. At the time of this offense, Cobb was on supervised release from a prior federal conviction.
This case was investigated by the Tampa Police Department, the Internal Revenue Service - Criminal Investigation, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs - Office of Inspector General, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives, and the members of the Tampa Bay Identity Theft Alliance, including the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office. This case was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Thomas N. Palermo and U.S Department of Justice Trial Attorney Timothy P. Loper of the Criminal Division’s Fraud Section.