TALLAHASSEE -- Kimberly Nakia Lewis, 31, of Sneads, Florida, and Christopher Lamont Shorter, 33, of Quincy, were arrested today on an indictment charging them with conspiracy to defraud the United States in the filing of false 2008 and 2009 income tax returns.
The indictment alleges that, while employed with the Florida Department of Corrections, Lewis used the department’s database to obtain the names and social security numbers of inmates for use in a scheme to file fraudulent federal income tax returns. According to the indictment, Lewis gave the information to Shorter, who used it, without the inmates’ knowledge or consent, to file fraudulent income tax returns in the inmates’ names. Shorter then arranged for the refunds issued on the returns to be deposited at credit unions throughout Tallahassee, in accounts opened in the name of “Complete Solutions Tax Services,” a business Shorter established in 2008.
The indictment also charges Shorter with 25 counts of filing false claims against the United States, seven counts of wire fraud, 18 counts of mail fraud, and four counts of aggravated identity theft, in connection with the scheme. Lewis is charged with four counts of false claims, seven counts of wire fraud, four counts of mail fraud, and one count of aggravated identity theft.
If convicted, the defendants face maximum sentences of ten years in prison for conspiracy, five years’ imprisonment on each count of false claims, and twenty years for each count of wire and mail fraud. If convicted of aggravated identity theft, the defendants face a mandatory minimum term of two years’ imprisonment, which must be served consecutively to any other sentence.
Trial is scheduled for April 2, 2012.
Pamela C. Marsh, U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Florida, praised the work of the Internal Revenue Service and the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, whose joint investigation led to the indictment in this case.
The government’s case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Winifred Acosta NeSmith.
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 are 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.