Inmate Serving Life Scams IRS Out of Millions

Five people are facing multiple charges for scamming the U.S. Government out of millions of dollars.

Authorities say the ringmaster was already serving a life sentence in prison.

Authorities say an inmate at Taylor Correctional Institution masterminded a scheme that resulted in false tax refunds of more than three million dollars.

Robert L. "Skip" Jarvis, Jr., State Attorney-Third Judicial Circuit, said,"This money is being stolen right out of our treasury by inmates and others with the prison system and I intend to put a stop to it."

46-year-old Timothy Coughlin, who's already serving a life sentence, is charged with racketeering, nine counts of identity theft, nine counts of forgery, money laundering, and conspiracy.

One of the co-conspirators, Illia Alisha Hale, was a corrections officer at the time at TCI.

She hid from cameras, but Eyewitness News was able to catch a glimpse of her ducking down in the front seat of an SUV while she was being taken to the Taylor County Jail Tuesday.

Area resident Carolyn Demps said, "We need to worry about the integrity of the people that's working to make sure that folks like me and other folks in this county get what they deserve and it's not going to the prison. I have a hard problem with that."

Jarvis says Coughlin stole identities, mostly from other inmates, and made fake W-2 forms to file tax returns.

The IRS electronically deposited the tax refunds into an account.
Hale and three other outside people--David Allen Wingard, Margaret Windgard Banks, and Rhonda Bellamy Tellier--helped by hiding and spending the money.

Jarvis says all of the refunds ranged from $2,200 to $7,000 each, which he says stayed just below the IRS's fraud radar.

"We would have preferred for the Feds to take this, but since the Feds are not going to do that, we have state charges that we can file to try to put a stop to this because this is essentially an absolute theft form the taxpayers of this country." Said, Jarvis.

Authorities say the scheme was in June 2007 when officers found tax returns and W-2s in Coughlin's cell during a cell check.

Authorities say Coughlin admitted to performing the fraud for several years.

Jarvis said that this type of fraud happens in state and federal prisons throughout the state of Florida, especially during tax season.

He says that the U.S. State Attorney's Office nor the IRS has ever prosecuted any of the incidents and say he believes that this is the first case to be prosecuted in our area.

If convicted on all counts, each person could get up to 140 years in prison.

Coughlin has been moved to the Santa Rosa state prison. Hale was fired from TCI last year and was working at FSU when authorities arrested her.

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  • by neverland Location: bfe on Feb 21, 2009 at 11:10 AM
    Women can supervise male inmates just as well as men can. Every now and then some women and men fall into the nice hands of what seems to be called,"A Good Deal". This was a good deal gone bad. As I think, I am sure of this, She went to work out there, started cheating on her husband with a Captain and left her 3 kids...Wow her sister in law did the same thing. Then she bought a new truck and was able to take numerous vacations. Wow the sister in law did the same. A lot of the things these two did together...maybe!!! Just need to check the sister in laws bank account like they did hers! My into wishin, She didn't act alone with who all was mentioned in the article, she had help from someone close to her. She posibilly could be taking the wrap for this one, just to take the heat off of another. It don't help when DOC lets you resign and don't fire you! Aman to Bill. You are very right when you said inmates have to many privilages and the legislatures need to resort back to the old day!
  • by Zelda Zonk Location: Sopchoppy on Feb 20, 2009 at 06:08 AM
    Well, at least the guy isn't letting a little thing like being incarcerated for life keep him from pursuing his career goals.
  • by Idiot Location: Hey bigman loan me a dollar on Feb 20, 2009 at 01:15 AM
    Gv, the jury is still out on that. Voilà! In view, a humble vaudevillian veteran, cast vicariously as both victim and villain by the vicissitudes of Fate. This visage, no mere veneer of vanity, is a vestige of the vox populi, now vacant, vanished. However, this valorous visitation of a by-gone vexation, stands vivified and has vowed to vanquish these venal and virulent vermin van-guarding vice and vouchsafing the violently vicious and voracious violation of volition. The only verdict is vengeance; a vendetta, held as a votive, not in vain, for the value and veracity of such shall one day vindicate the vigilant and the virtuous. Evey Hammond: Are you like a crazy person? V: I am quite sure they will say so.! If google shuts down I have to go back to being a dummy, until then I have the world at my fingertips.
  • by Apostolic Warrior Location: Jax,FL on Feb 19, 2009 at 11:34 PM
    RAW,There's a saying "It's better to keep your mouth shut,and to be thought a fool,than to open it and remove all doubt." Words to live by Raw. I will be praying for you,and your family.
  • by GV Location: Ga on Feb 19, 2009 at 02:02 PM
    idiot,your not really an idiot,are you?
  • by GV Location: Ga on Feb 19, 2009 at 01:06 PM
    dillon,where you at?I guess you stayed up all night smokin crack so you're sleepin all day soakin up that welfare check.That's ok,I made plenty of money and payed plenty of taxes today to cover for ya.You can jab at me all you want and it doesn't bother me,but for you to be in Madison and call someone backwoods,well that beats all I've ever heard.
  • by Idiot Location: Audit the inmates on Feb 19, 2009 at 12:07 PM
    Inmates with more power in jail than most have on the street, doesnt that make you feel inferior? thats almost racist,had to be a white guy::Connie the IRS is a sham and a fraud anyway they claimed to have passed a law but it was never ratified during the early 1900's JP mOrgan and rockyfeller. Our supreme pizza court does delivery, they paid people off and let the ink dry. Do some research. They lied and have been lieing. I'll probably wind up missing for pointing this out, those bigwigs that stole Geronimos skull&bones dont like being talked about,exposed, The jesters the masons the rotary the boys clubs and the temple of the owl,, HEy hey momma we're all crazy now. Wheres Mel Gibson when ya need him. Conspiracy theory, Pyramids , coral castles sumarians planet x nephilim Edgar cayce bigfoot nazca lines stone hinge crop circles. The truth is out there. Most people are just too dam busy to stop and find out. Our individual slavery keeps or blinders on. Special handshake anyone?
  • by Tim on Feb 19, 2009 at 11:41 AM
    Connie, I understand what your saying, but why not try it if you are in for life. What else can they do, give you another life sentence, you on the other hand being a hard working honest person, would be run through the ringer and left out to dry. It's not about the money girl, it's about making people dependant on the government and the prception of needing the government that they want you to believe. Our problem today is a result of many administrations allowing government rules to dictate what lenders, banks ect, can or cannot do, when they get involed then there is trouble ahead, just wait and see what the bailouts and stimulis debt will do. The Bush, O'Bama downfall of economy. anyway good luck if you try.
  • by Connie Location: Tallahasse/Thomasville on Feb 19, 2009 at 10:56 AM
    If the federal government is so broke, why dont they pursue these fraudulant cases. I used to work with a tax filing service and there are SO MANY married couples filing illegaly!! They are filing head of household and splitting up the kids and getting so much money! Im talkin millions people!!!! They are often sorry, lazy people that cant even keep a job for a year and they get all this money. FRAUD is what it is and they never get caught. Does the IRS even look at any of the returns?? I am married with 2 kids and my husband & I are honest hardworking people who just cant seem to catch a break! Im wondering if there is a reward cuz I am gonna start sending in some names to the IRS!! Watch out people, I cover a large area and YOU MIGHT BE ON THAT LIST!!!!!
  • by Wakulla Location: C-Ville on Feb 19, 2009 at 08:02 AM
    OH NO not GV & Rob!!!! Everyone is entitled to there own thoughts. Weren't you allow to post ur thoughts.. Anonymous, and why do you remain anonymous. Nothing they do in these prisons surprises me, I went to visit a friend one day and they had pool tables in there too. Good grief....what will they think of next...
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