Former School Police Officer Sentenced for Filing a False Income Tax Return
On February 6, 2019, a former Palm Beach County School Police Officer was sentenced federally for filing a false income tax return.
Ariana Fajardo Orshan, U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Florida, George L. Piro, Special Agent-in-Charge, Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Miami Field Office, Michael J. De Palma, Special Agent in Charge, Internal Revenue Service, Criminal Investigation (IRS-CI), Frank Kitzerow, Chief of Police, Palm Beach County School District, made the announcement.
Ronnie Arnest Williams, 57, of West Palm Beach, Florida, previously pled guilty to filing a false personal income tax return for tax year 2017. As part of his plea, Williams was required to surrender his certificate to be a police officer and resigned as a school police officer. Williams had held certificates to be a corrections officer since 1985 and a police officer since 1994 and had worked in law enforcement for approximately 32 years. Williams was sentenced by U.S. District Judge Robin L. Rosenberg to time served and 12 months of supervised release.
According to the court docket, including information presented to the court at the time Williams entered his guilty plea, the defendant contacted a parent of a child at the school where he was employed as a safety officer, to obtain the names of minor children he could claim as dependents on his pending 2017 personal income tax return. Williams wanted two children’s names and social security numbers to claim as dependents so that his refund for the 2017 tax year would be increased. Law enforcement was notified of Williams desire to defraud the IRS.
In order to facilitate the investigation, Williams, was provided, by the FBI, with false names and social security numbers that he used when filing his return. The IRS received the false tax return that claimed a refund of more than $5,000 greater than that which Williams was entitled and promptly rejected the filing as the social security numbers did not match the ages of the children being claimed. Immediately after the rejection, Williams filed a personal income tax return that did not claim any dependents.
During this tax season, citizens should be aware of the extensive investigative efforts conducted by federal law enforcement agents of the Internal Revenue Service, the FBI and other agencies into the crime of filing false income tax returns.
U.S. Attorney Fajardo Orshan commended the investigative efforts of the FBI, IRS-CI and the Palm Beach County School Police Department in this matter. This case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Ellen L. Cohen.