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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Northern District of Florida

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Man Sentenced to 63 Months in Prison for Inmate Tax Fraud Scheme

PANAMA CITY, FLORIDA – Michael William Joseph, III, 53, formerly an inmate in the Florida Department of Corrections was sentenced to 63 months in prison today for his involvement in an inmate tax fraud scheme and ordered to pay $37,196.27 in restitution to the Internal Revenue Service. 

United States District Judge Richard Smoak sentenced Joseph to 63 months in prison based upon Joseph’s guilty plea to forty-one counts of violation of federal criminal laws which included:  conspiracy to defraud the government with respect to claims, conspiracy to commit mail fraud, twenty-four counts of filing false claims against the government and fifteen counts of theft from the government.  In addition, Judge Smoak also ordered that $29,514.91 in United States currency would be forfeited to the United States as proceeds of Joseph’s federal crimes.  These funds included money that was seized by law enforcement from Joseph’s bank account, as well as an additional stash of cash found buried in the backyard of a Tampa home in June 2009.

The evidence showed that Joseph conspired with others to file eighty-one false claims for tax refunds against the government in the names of forty-one inmates incarcerated in Florida Department of Corrections from February 7, 2008, through July 10, 2012.  Most of the false refunds were directed to a bank account under the control of Joseph or were sent in checks to the residence of Joseph’s mother.   

United States Attorney Pamela Marsh stated, “The Department of Justice is committed to vigorously prosecuting those individuals and groups of individuals who steal the identities of other individuals and use those stolen identities to fraudulently obtain large amounts of money from the Government. We have intensified our efforts, along with our federal and state law enforcement partners, to identify and vigorously prosecute these stolen identity return fraud cases.”

“Today’s sentence reflects the seriousness with which tax refund fraud is taken by the courts” stated James D. Robnett, Special Agent in Charge of the IRS Criminal Investigation, Tampa Field Office. “Our office, in cooperation with the U.S. Attorney’s Office and our federal, state and local law enforcement partners, will continue to commit resources to combat tax fraud wherever it may occur.  Through aggressive enforcement of the tax laws our office hopes to promote confidence in the tax system, proving that this type of crime will not be tolerated.”

Ms. Marsh expressed her grateful appreciation for the collaborative investigative efforts of IRS Criminal Investigation, the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, the State Attorney’s Office for the 14th Judicial Circuit of Florida, and the Florida Department of Corrections. The case was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Tiffany H. Eggers.

Updated January 26, 2015