Local Nurse Sentenced to 60 Months in Prison for Tax Return Fraud
TALLAHASSEE, FLORIDA – Tangela Lawson-Brown, 41, of Midway, Florida, was sentenced yesterday to 60 months in federal prison after her conviction at trial in October 2017 for crimes arising from the filing of fraudulent federal income tax returns. The sentence was announced by Christopher P. Canova, United States Attorney for the Northern District of Florida.
The court imposed concurrent sentences of 36 months in prison on each of two counts of wire fraud, one count of theft of government funds, and one count of possessing fifteen or more access devices. Those sentences must be served consecutively to the 24-month sentence imposed upon Lawson-Brown for using the identities of other persons in her fraudulent scheme. Lawson-Brown was also ordered to pay $141,790 in restitution to the IRS.
Between October 2011 and December 2012, Lawson-Brown worked as a nurse at a Tallahassee nursing home. In January 2013, the Tallahassee Police Department seized a notebook containing the personally identifiable information (“PII”) of more than 150 people from Lawson-Brown’s vehicle.
More than two hundred fraudulent income tax returns were filed for the 2011 and 2012 tax years as part of the scheme. These returns sought a total of $1,018,121 in refunds and actually caused $141,790 to be disbursed. Of the fraudulent returns filed, 105 were under names listed in the notebook, with 38 of the victims having been residents at the nursing home where the defendant worked. Another 42 victims were residents at nursing homes in central Florida, where friends and relatives of Lawson-Brown worked. Fraudulent returns were filed as quickly as six days after a patient checked in to the defendant’s nursing home.
U.S. Attorney Canova said: “This case illustrates the lengths to which criminals will prey upon the vulnerability of elderly and disabled persons. Relatives and other caregivers should be alert to unauthorized tax returns, bank accounts, credit cards, and financial transactions, and should immediately report identity theft crimes to law enforcement agencies. My office will continue to aggressively prosecute identity theft crimes to deter those who may be tempted to participate in such activities, especially where it involves persons in positions of trust.”
“Tax season is almost here, and today’s sentencing of Tangela Lawson-Brown for filing false tax returns is a powerful reminder of what can happen when you decide to steal from honest taxpayers,” said Shawn Batsch, Assistant Special Agent in Charge of the Tampa Field Office. “Through their partnership with the U.S. Attorney’s Office and other law enforcement agencies, IRS Criminal Investigation’s Special Agents will continue their aggressive pursuit of those who would attempt to defraud America’s tax system.”
“It is devastating when people in positions of trust victimize the people in their care. I am proud of the collaboration demonstrated during this investigation as we worked diligently to protect and care for our most vulnerable citizens,” said Chief Michael DeLeo of the Tallahassee Police Department.
This case resulted from an investigation by the Internal Revenue Service-Criminal Investigation, the United States Secret Service, and the Tallahassee Police Department. Assistant United States Attorney Michael T. Simpson prosecuted the case.
The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Florida is one of 94 offices that serve as the nation’s principal litigators under the direction of the Attorney General. To access public court documents online, please visit the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Florida website. For more information about the U.S. Attorney’s Office, Northern District of Florida, visit http://www.justice.gov/usao/fln/index.html.