A Florida prison inmate who allegedly ran a scheme to defraud the Internal Revenue Service of approximately $115,000 in tax refunds has pleaded guilty.
Shawn Clarke, 37, pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to defraud the government after the U.S. Attorneys Office agreed to dismiss 24 other counts of filing or contributing to filing fraudulent tax returns, according to the Miami Herald. He faces up to 10 years in prison, three years of probation and a fine of $250,000. Clarkes mother, sister and brother have also been indicted and taken similar guilty pleas.
Clarke and about 50 other inmates and relatives were involved in a scheme at Stock Island Detention Center in which the inmates filed 1040EZ and 4852 forms, filling in the names of fake or defunct businesses, and bogus income and withholding numbers. At one point, they wrote to the IRS asking to be sent the 4852 forms, which they did not have access to in jail. The refunds were typically for about $5,000. The money would usually be signed over to relatives or deposited in an inmates account.
Prison officials learned of the scheme when they discovered a how-to note in one inmates cell, and a bank officer didnt trust a power-of-attorney form from a relative seeking to cash a check.
Another ringleader in the case, Danilo Suarez, and his brother and two other relatives are also facing charges. His trial is scheduled to begin in July.
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