Former University Community Hospital Staff Member Sentenced for Tax Fraud and Aggravated Identity Theft
|U.S. Attorney’s Office May 17, 2013|
TAMPA—U.S. District Judge Virginia M. Hernandez Covington yesterday sentenced Tanya Cullens to three years and three months in federal prison for conspiracy to commit tax fraud and aggravated identity theft. As part of the sentence, the court also entered a forfeiture money judgment in the amount of $44,080, which constitutes the proceeds of the tax fraud conspiracy. In addition, the court ordered Cullens to pay $85,055.00 in restitution to the Internal Revenue Service and Jabil Circuit Inc. for a separate fraud offense. Cullens pleaded guilty on February 12, 2013.
According to court documents, in 2012, Cullens was a member of the cleaning staff at University Community Hospital. On January 17, 2012, she stole a patient list from the hospital. This list contained 48 names, dates of birth, and Social Security numbers of persons treated at University Community Hospital on that same date. Shortly after stealing the patient list from the hospital, Cullens provided the list to her friend and co-conspirator, Alesia Spivey, who used the list to file fraudulent tax returns with the IRS. None of the individuals whose names, dates of birth, and Social Security numbers appeared on these fraudulent tax returns knew that the conspirators were filing tax returns on their behalf. In total, 10 fraudulent tax returns filed by the conspirators claimed approximately $79,204 in false tax refunds. Ultimately, the IRS paid out $44,080 in refunds to the conspirators.
Alesia Spivey pleaded guilty to her role in the conspiracy in December 2012. She is scheduled to be sentenced on June 19, 2013.
In the year prior to this offense, Cullens was involved in a scheme to defraud Jabil Circuit Inc. On three occasions during the course of this unrelated fraud conspiracy, Cullens pretended to be an employee of Jabil Circuit for the purposes of convincing Jabil Circuit’s relocation benefits contractor to send three lump sum payments to bank accounts controlled by Cullens. These lump sum payments were for false moving expenses that were never incurred by Cullens or any employee of Jabil Circuit. In all, Jabil Circuit suffered a loss of $40,975 due to the wire fraud scheme perpetrated by Cullens and Spivey.
This case was investigated by the Internal Revenue Service-Criminal Investigation and the Federal Bureau of Investigation. It was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Simon Gaugush.