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PCSO News Release

Media Contact:
Wilder, Scott

Office of Communications Director 
News Date: 5/8/2012 

 PCSO Tax Fraud Investigation “Stop the Drop” Nets 19 Suspects 


Polk County Sheriff’s Office Identity Theft Task Force detectives have arrested 19 suspects who have defrauded local taxpayers and the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) of hundreds of thousands of dollars. This is an ongoing investigation. Detectives have discovered 399 fraudulent identities and uncovered $475,995.66 that had been fraudulently obtained from the IRS. 

“These thieves are stealing identities from individuals: nursing home residents, dead people, and unsuspecting citizens. Ultimately, they are stealing all of us—federal taxpayers—blind. They are shamelessly lying and filing false tax returns and the IRS is sending them money, literally no questions asked.”  --Sheriff Grady Judd 

Today’s arrests are a continuation of a 2011 investigation that led to the September 13, 2011, arrest of 41-year-old Licensed Practical Nurse Cathy L. McClain, of 605 Sunway Lane in Winter Haven, and the August 16, 2011, arrest of 30-year-old Derail Bess, of 642 Brookshire Drive in Davenport. They were charged with a variety of charges including: Identity Theft of Over 30 Victims (Criminal use of personal identification information, 30 or more victims, F.S. 817.568(c)); Grand Theft; and Scheming to Defraud.   

McClain worked at the Brandywyne Nursing home as a LPN. She provided Derail Bess with 83 identities that belonged to residents of the nursing home. Bess used 18 of the victims’ identities to obtain $87,722.24 from the IRS. Bess was convicted and sentenced to 5 years in prison, 20 years probation and restitution.  McClain has not yet been sentenced. 

In addition to Bess and McClain, detectives have arrested six others since September, 2011, on charges ranging from Identity Theft, Grand Theft, Forgery, and Illegal Use of a Debit Card. The suspects are listed below. Eleven others have been arrested today on similar charges. All 19 suspects are listed below, along with their charges and details about the investigation. 

Here is how the tax fraud works:   

· Illegally acquire/steal identities. A name, social security number, and date of birth are required. Some criminals specialize in stealing identities. As an example, those who work in a nursing home setting (i.e. Brandywyne, Groves, Lake Alfred Assisted Living, etc.), who have access to medical files, can steal and then use or sell these names to other thieves. Some tax fraud criminals simply buy identities from others. 

· The thieves then file fraudulent tax returns, making up financial data that will result in a high tax return amount, often using tax credits in the IRS code. They often use electronic tax preparers so that they can get “refunds” quicker and easier. 

· They then receive “tax refunds” from the IRS made out to the stolen identity in the one of the following ways:  1) federal check in the mail, 2) refunds direct deposited into their account or a bank account created to receive the refund, or 3) refunds placed on a pre-paid debit card or other pre-paid card service.

· The thieves then convert payments into purchases, cash, or money orders via financial institutions or retailers.

  

The following individuals have been arrested as a part of this investigation:

 

Derail Bess, 642 Brookshire Dr., Davenport, FL 33897, DOB: 9/11/82.  He was arrested on 8/16/11.  Charges: Identity Theft over 30 Victims, 10 counts - Grand Theft, 1 count - Scheme to Defraud, 11 counts - Illegal Use of a Credit Card.  Bess obtained the victims’ information from Cathy McClain and used it to obtain $87,722.24. He was in possession of 83 identities.  The victims were all residents of Brandywyne Nursing Home. Bess was sentenced to 5 years in prison, 20 years probation, and restitution. 

Cathy McClain, 604 Sunway Lane, Winter Haven FL 33880, DOB: 1/4/70.  Charges:  Identity Theft over 30 Victims, 1 count - Grand Theft, 1 count - Scheme to Defraud.  McClain worked at the Brandywyne Nursing Home as a LPN.  She provided Derail Bess with 83 identities that belonged to residents of the nursing home.  She was arrested on 9/13/2011 and her criminal case is pending. 

Derek Rogers, 830 Providence Reserve Loop, #202, Lakeland, FL 33809, DOB: 10/08/84.  He was arrested today, May 8, 2012.  Charges: 2 counts - Criminal Use of Personal ID, and 1 count - Illegal Use of a Debit Card.  Rogers was also arrested on 9/2/11 for 1 count - Possession of Cannabis.  At the time he was observed using a tax card to purchase money orders from a major retailer. He was unable to advise whose name was on the card or where he had obtained the card. Investigation revealed that the card was obtained as a result of a fraudulently filed tax return. He obtained $4,600.00 from the IRS and the PCSO recovered $2,000.00 in money orders. 

Geraldo Carvalho, 2816 North 9th Street, Tampa FL 33605, DOB: 4/5/86.  Charges:  2 counts - Identity Theft, 6 counts - Grand Theft, 6 counts - Illegal Use of a Debit Card.  Carvalho was observed using a tax card to purchase money orders from a major retailer. He was unable to advise whose name was on the card or where he had obtained the card. Investigation revealed that the card was obtained as a result of a fraudulently filed tax return. He obtained $7,303.00 from the IRS and the PCSO recovered $1,490.00. He also had $983.00 in cash, which was seized for forfeiture.  He was arrested on 9/9/11. 

Darrell Williams, 1201 Joed Court, Tampa FL 33602, DOB:  6/14/72.  Charges:  2 counts - Identity Theft, 1 count - Grand Theft, 2 counts - Illegal Use of a Debit Card.  Williams was observed using a tax card to purchase money orders from a major retailer. He was unable to advise whose name was on the card or where he had obtained the card. Investigation revealed that the card was obtained as a result of a fraudulently filed tax return. He obtained $2,983.00 from the IRS and the PCSO recovered $2,983.00.  He was arrested on 9/9/11. 

Jacqueline Waters, 4722 1st Ave., Auburndale FL 33823, DOB:  9/14/77, Charges:  14 counts - Identity Theft, 2 counts - Illegal Use of Debit Card, 1 count - Grand Theft, 1 count - Petit Theft.  Waters was observed using a tax card to purchase money orders from a major retailer. She was unable to advise whose name was on the card or where she had obtained the card. Investigation revealed that the card was obtained as a result of a fraudulently filed tax return. She obtained $1,500.00 from the IRS and the PCSO recovered $1,500.00 in money orders.  The PCSO seized $810.00 in U.S. currency from the Waters.  She was arrested on 9/2/2011. 

Lavon Wilkinson, 818 Cohassett Ave., Apt. 2, Lake Wales, FL 33853, DOB: 1/7/90.  Charges: 2 counts - Identity Theft, 2 counts - Grand Theft, 1 count - Illegal Use of a Debit Card, 1 count - Scheme to Defraud.  Wilkinson was observed using a tax card to purchase money orders from a major retailer.  She was unable to advise whose name was on the card or where she had obtained the card.  Investigation revealed that the card was obtained as a result of a fraudulently filed tax return. She obtained $16,110.00 from the IRS on two debit cards and the PCSO recovered $500.00 in money orders.  Wilkinson was sentenced to 5 years probation, 30 days work release, 100 hours of community service and restitution. Her identity theft victims were from the Lake Alfred Assisted Living Facility.  She was arrested on 9/9/11. 

Shonda Wilkinson, 21 Sessoms Ave., Lake Wales FL, DOB: 04/25/88.  Charges:  1 count - Identity Theft, 1 count - Grand Theft, 1 count - Illegal Use of a Debit Card.  Wilkinson was observed using a tax card to purchase money orders from a major retailer.  She was unable to advise whose name was on the card or where she had obtained the card. The investigation revealed that the card was obtained as a result of a fraudulently filed tax return. She obtained $1,000.00 on a debit card from the IRS and the Sheriff’s Office recovered $1,000.00 in money orders.  She was arrested on 9/9/2011.  Wilkinson was sentenced to 5 years probation, 100 hours of community service and restitution.  She was arrested again today on new charges:  Identity Theft over 30 Victims, 1 count - Money Laundering, 9 counts - Grand Theft, and 1 count - Scheme to Defraud.  Wilkinson was found to be in possession of 81 identities that she obtained from 16 different subjects. 44 of the identities were supplied by Farrah Legrand a Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA) working at the Groves Nursing Home. All 44 victims are residents of the Groves Nursing Home.  Wilkinson obtained $36,348.00 from the U.S. Treasury with the identities.  

Maureen Turner, 1140 East Lemon Street, Lakeland, FL 33801, DOB: 9/18/61.  Charges:  1 count - Pass an Altered Instrument, 1 count - Forgery, 1 count - Grand Theft.  Turner attempted to cash an altered U.S. Treasury check.  She was arrested on 3/9/12. 

Derrick L. Howell, 2435 Taylor Road, Auburndale, FL 33823, DOB: 10/26/1988.  He was arrested today.  Charges: 1 county - Scheme to Defraud over $20,000; 4 counts - Grand Theft over $5,000.00; 1 count - Grand Theft over $300.00.  Howell is a Healthcare Management employee.  He used his personal bank account to allow fraudulently obtained tax refunds to be deposited—a total of $30,377.75 was deposited. 

Keturah Ford, 2743 Aldine Circle, Lakeland, FL 33801, DOB: 09/23/90. Charges: Previously charged (3/29/12) with 1 count - Identity Theft and 1 count - Grand Theft over $300.00.  She was arrested today on new charges: 5 counts - Identity Theft; 1 count - Scheme to Defraud a Financial Institution (F2), and 1 count - Grand Theft (over $10,000).  Ford worked as a bank teller at Mid-Florida Credit Union (she was terminated).  Since November, 2011 she had cashed 43 fraudulently obtained tax checks, totaling approximately $118,307.11 from the IRS.  Mid-Florida has been fully cooperating with this investigation. 

Tiffany Manghram, 2878 Barton Place, Bartow, FL 33830, DOB: 01/14/85.  She was arrested todayCharges: 1 count - Scheme to Defraud over $20,000; 1 count - Grand Theft over $5,000.00; 3 counts - Grand Theft over $300.00.  Manghram utilized her personal bank account to allow fraudulently obtained tax refunds to be deposited—a total of $22,185.45 from the IRS. 

Bobby Arrington, 5459 Pipes Road, Bartow, FL 33830, DOB: 1/13/68.  He was arrested todayCharges:  23 counts - Identity Theft, 4 counts - Illegal Use of Debit Card, 4 counts - Grand Theft, and 1 count - Scheme to Defraud.  Arrington was in possession of 23 identities and obtained $7,308.00 from the U.S. Treasury by using 8 of the identities.  

Corey Carter, 3360 Ave Q, N.W., Winter Haven, FL 33880, DOB: 1/24/79. He was arrested todayCharges: 1 count - Identity Theft, 1 count - Illegal Use of a Debit Card, 1 count – Grand Theft, 1 count - Scheme to Defraud.  Carter was identified on security video using a Turbo Tax debit card to make withdraws. The debit card was obtained through filing a tax return without the victim’s permission. Carter obtained $4,000.00 from the IRS from the Turbo Tax debit card. 

Sharod Vann, 605 Thomas Ave., Winter Haven, FL 33880, DOB: 1/6/89.  He was arrested todayCharges:  4 counts - Identity Theft, 1 count - Illegal Use of a Debit Card, 1 count - Scheme to Defraud, 4 counts - Grand Theft.  Vann obtained 4 Turbo Tax debit cards by filing false tax returns in the names of four different victims. The suspect used the debit cards to withdraw $9,250.00.  The Polk County Sheriff’s Office recovered $9,040.90 on the cards in his possession. 

Francietta Freeman, 143 East Northside Drive, Lake Wales, FL 33853, DOB: 7/23/82. She was arrested todayCharges:  Identity Theft over 30 Victims, 1 count - Illegal Use of a Debit Card, 1 count - Scheme to Defraud, 1 count - Grand Theft.  Freeman and Zachary Herring (see below) were in possession of 146 identities.  88 of these identities were of deceased victims.  They opened 18 debit card accounts with the identities. The suspect obtained $9,563.00 from the IRS with 16 of the victim’s identities. 

Zachary Herring, 143 East Northside Drive, Lake Wales, FL 33853, DOB: 10/30/82.  He was arrested todayCharges:  Identity Theft over 30 Victims, 1 count - Illegal Use of Debit Card, 1 count - Grand Theft, 1 count - Scheme to Defraud.  (See Francietta Freeman above).  

Farrah Legrand, 777 Lake Mable Loop Road, Lake Wales, FL 33898, DOB: 11/3/77.  She was arrested todayCharges:  Identity Theft over 30 Victims, 1 count - Money Laundering, 9 counts - Grand Theft, 1 count - Scheme to Defraud.  Legrand is a Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA) at the Groves Nursing Home in Lake Wales.  She gave the personal information of 44 nursing home residents to Shonda Wilkinson.  Wilkinson filed tax returns and directed the funds to a bank account.  Legrand then transferred the funds to another account and obtained $36,348.00 (from the U.S. Treasury).   

Caitlin Nelson, 147 Pond Rd., Davenport, FL, DOB: 08/31/90.  She was arrested todayCharges: Resisting Arrest, 1 count of Identity Theft, 1 count of Illegal Use of Debit Card, 1 count of Grand Theft, and 1 count of Scheme to Defraud.