A federal judge will hear the details of a plea agreement later this month that may avoid a trial on the merits of a former Tampa homicide detective who has been accused of filing fraudulent tax returns.
Eric Houston is scheduled to appear in the chambers of federal Judge Richard A. Lazzara on March 22 to present a plea agreement his attorneys and federal prosecutors have worked out that may settle twenty counts of crimes relating to his allegedly using stolen identities to file false tax returns in order to obtain tax refunds.
According to federal prosecutors, Houston and his wife, LaJoyce Caldwell Houston, conspired to use personal information to which they both had access by virtue of their jobs in law enforcement and forward such information to a third party, whom they allegedly understood would take the information and use it to submit false tax returns. LaJoyce, who was also employed by the Tampa Police Department at the time, and Eric allegedly reaped almost a quarter of a million dollars in fraudulent refunds over the course of the alleged conspiracy.
Details of the plea agreement have yet to be released. Eric is currently facing federal charges of conspiracy, theft of government property, and money laundering conspiracy. If convicted he could be sentenced to up to thirty-five years in federal prison. LaJoyce faces those same counts, plus obtaining information from a protected computer with the intent to defraud, and aggravated identity theft. She could be facing almost fifty years in federal prison if convicted on all counts.
Rita Girven, the third party to whom they sent information to be entered in the fraudulent tax returns, was a longtime police informer. She pled guilty to aggravated identity theft and conspiracy to commit wire fraud in 2015.
The Law Offices of Bjorn Brunvand have been representing people charged with capital murder, felony drug charges, drunk driving, government fraud, and white-collar crimes for over a quarter century. Contact our office today to discuss your Tampa Bay-area state or federal charges.