TAMPA, FL—United States Attorney Robert E. O’Neill announces the indictment and arrest of Belinda Brooks (46, Tampa) for tax fraud related activities. Brooks has been charged in a 17-count indictment. The charges include one count of filing a false tax return, six counts of theft of government property in the form of tax refunds, six counts of aggravated identity theft, three counts of making false claims in the form of fraudulent tax returns, and three counts of identity theft. The maximum federal prison sentence for each of the counts is as follows: 10 years for theft of government property, two years consecutive to any other sentence for aggravated identity theft, five years for making a false claim, and 15 years for identity theft. The indictment also notifies Brooks that the United States intends to forfeit any assets, including money, which are alleged to be traceable to proceeds of the offenses.
The indictment alleges that in addition to filing her own false tax return, Brooks stole the names and Social Security numbers of other individuals in order to file fraudulent tax returns in their names and obtain tax refunds for the tax years 2008 and 2009.
An indictment is merely a formal charge that a defendant has committed a violation of the federal criminal laws, and every defendant is presumed innocent unless, and until, proven guilty.
This case was investigated by the Internal Revenue Service. It is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Mandy Riedel.
This case is part of Operation Rainmaker, a coordinated effort among the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Middle District of Florida and various federal and local law enforcement agencies, including the U.S. Secret Service, IRS, United States Postal Inspection Service, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Tampa Police Department, and the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Department to combat the filing of false tax returns in the Tampa Bay region.