Seven Tampa Residents Plead Guilty in Stolen Identity Refund Fraud Scheme
TAMPA, FL—United States Attorney A. Lee Bentley, III announces that seven individuals have pleaded guilty to engaging in a conspiracy to file fraudulent income tax returns. Brandon Gilchrist, Donterrio Troup, Terrance Johnson, Tanisha Johnson, and Shadae Cotton each pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit theft of government funds and aggravated identity theft and theft of government funds. Each faces up to 15 years in federal prison. Mikeil Royal has pleaded guilty to conspiracy and aggravated identity theft. He faces a maximum penalty of five years’ imprisonment for the conspiracy count, to be followed by a mandatory two year term of imprisonment for the identity theft count. Kenneth Royal has pleaded guilty to conspiracy and theft of government funds charges and faces a maximum sentence of 15 years in federal prison. Sentencing dates have not yet been set.
According to court documents, the conspirators opened accounts at various local financial institutions and used those accounts to receive fraudulent income tax refunds. The conspirators caused the filing of numerous fraudulent federal income tax returns on behalf of deceased persons, usually individuals who shared the same last name as the defendant. As a consequence, the IRS wired income tax refunds, to which these individuals were not entitled, into the accounts previously established at their banks. The total loss to the IRS from this conspiracy was almost $488,658.00.
This case was investigated by the Internal Revenue Service-Criminal Investigation, with assistance from the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Hillsborough County Sherriff’s Office. It is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Jay L. Hoffer.