Department of Justice Release
TALLAHASSEE, FLORIDA - Three defendants have been charged with conspiring to defraud the United States in the filing of false tax returns. The 31-count indictment, unsealed today, also charges wire fraud, false claims, and aggravated identity theft. The indictment was announced today by Pamela C. Marsh, U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Florida.
Amber Sasha-Rashawn Simmons, 22, and Joshua Clayton Thomas, 23, both of Tampa, and Spencer Larry Parson, 25, of Tallahassee, are charged with conspiring to file false claims for more than $818,000 in federal tax refunds between August 2011 and June 2012. The indictment alleges that the conspirators created the fraudulent returns using taxpayer identification numbers and other personal identifying information stolen from both living and deceased individuals, who had been patients of the Tallahassee Memorial Hospital.
In addition to conspiracy, Simmons, Thomas, and Parson are also charged with ten substantive counts of filing false claims against the United States and ten counts of wire fraud. The defendants also face charges of aggravated identity theft based upon the unauthorized use of victims’ personal identifying information.
If convicted, the defendants face maximum sentences of ten years in prison for conspiracy, five years for filing false claims, and twenty years for wire fraud. If convicted of aggravated identity theft, Simmons, Thomas, and Parson each face a separate mandatory minimum term of two years’ imprisonment, which must be served consecutively to any other sentence.
U.S. Attorney Marsh commended the work of the Internal Revenue Service – Criminal Investigations, the United States Postal Inspection Service, and the Leon County Sheriff’s Office, whose joint investigation led to the indictment in this case. The government’s case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Jason Coody. The case is being prosecuted as part of a Department of Justice initiative to fight stolen identity refund fraud (SIRF).
In September of last year, the Department issued Tax Division Directive 144, which sets forth expedited Department review procedures for SIRF cases, enabling law enforcement to respond quickly and effectively to the grave challenges presented in SIRF cases and to prevent the victimization of innocent taxpayers whose identities are stolen by fraudsters.
An indictment is merely an allegation by a grand jury that a defendant has committed a violation of federal criminal law and is not evidence of guilt. All defendants are presumed innocent and entitled to a fair trial, during which it will be the government's burden to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.