January 30, 2012
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Thanks to the Florida Department of Corrections Inspectors and employees from Santa Rosa Correctional Institution working with State Attorney’s Office, inmates conspiring with persons outside of prison have been stopped by in their plans to obtain millions in Federal tax refunds.
Friday, January 27, a Circuit Court in Milton, Florida found two people guilty of operating an illegal income tax scheme from behind bars at the Santa Rosa Correctional Institute. The convictions came after a three year investigation initiated by the Florida Department of Corrections.
In January 2009, staff at Santa Rosa CI discovered suspicious envelopes containing completed tax forms for seven inmates in the inmate's outgoing mail, all in the same handwriting. The envelopes and tax forms originated from Inmate Horace Young. They were addressed to a family member named Andrea Blue. Prison staff searched Young's property and discovered additional evidence of tax fraud.
The recovery was reported to the Office of the Inspector General and assigned to Senior Inspector Art Rountree for investigation. Due to the multiple jurisdictions involved, Rountree contacted investigator Jeff Shuler of the State Attorney's Office in Milton and a joint investigation began.
The investigation revealed that former Inmate Hillary King #076538, (aka: Kareem Born-Allah Ali X) submitted tax returns electronically using the personal information of inmates and civilians provided by Inmate Young.
During the next three years, DC provided multiple records and recordings, and helped to facilitate interviews with inmates across the state. He assisted with additional searches and the transfer of inmates to assist with the trial. Rountree and staff from Santa Rosa CI testified throughout the week-long trial.
After about two hours deliberation, the jury convicted Kareem Born-Allah Ali X, a former inmate, and current inmate Horace Young on racketeering charges.
The men face up to 30 years in prison on the first-degree felony convictions. A third suspect, Angela Blue, pleaded no contest to organized-fraud charges and testified against Ali X and Young.
Blue testified that from 2007 to 2009, Young obtained information from dozens of inmates and filled out tax forms in their names on tax forms delivered to the prison then mailed them to Blue. She in turn mailed them to the Internal Revenue Service in Atlanta. Refunds were directed to bank accounts controlled by Ali X in Miami, according to prosecutor Assistant State Attorney Russ Edgar.
During the five-day trial, the prosecution presented evidence including the correspondence with inmates, bank records, recordings of telephone calls made from the prison, and tax returns from inmates. Ali X and Young served as their own counsel during the trial. The two never took the stand and, according to Edgar, offered little defense.
The prosecution rested at 11 a.m. Friday and the jury entered deliberations at 4 p.m. Blue will be sentenced on the first-degree felony charge on Feb. 7. King and Young sentencing is set for March 15.