A federal district court judge in Tampa sentenced Russell B. Simmons, Jr. to 15 years in federal prison this week, almost the maximum sentence under federal guidelines. Simmons was accused of tax fraud which netted him almost $2 million.
Simmons, owner of Simmons Auto Sales in Tampa, allegedly used the proceeds of his tax scheme to purchase a $60,000 Bentley and over $100,000 in diamond jewelry. He told the sentencing judge that he did it for his family, having lost a lot while going through a divorce.
The judge, however, described the scheme as a “calculated fraud” with staggering numbers associated with it.
According to testimony in court from Secret Service and IRS agents, Simmons tried to steal $8.9 million by filing more than 600 fraudulent tax returns. The IRS rejected more than $5.5 million worth of refunds but approved $3.4 million. Ultimately, Simmons received $1.8 million in fraudulent refunds, after other refunds were halted by TurboTax or other means.
According to prosecutors, Simmons filed returns using the identities of elderly people who didn’t need to file tax returns, making detection by the IRS less likely.
Simmons was remorseful at sentencing, apologizing for his crimes.
Authorities say hundreds of millions of dollars in bogus income tax returns have been processed from the Tampa area alone. Certainly, if news reports are to be believed, prosecution of these tax fraud cases is on an upswing in the Tampa Bay area. If you or someone you know is the subject of a tax fraud investigation or prosecution, contact an experienced criminal defense attorney in the Tampa Bay area immediately. Early involvement by an experienced defense attorney can often be extremely beneficial to your case.