Following a four-day trial Latonya Carson, 42, of Dallas, was convicted on several federal offenses stemming from her role in a scheme to steal personal identifying information, use it to fraudulently obtain income tax refunds, and then launder those funds.
Specifically, Carson was convicted on one count of conspiracy to commit theft of public funds, access device fraud and wire fraud; three counts of aggravated identity theft; one count of conspiracy to commit money laundering; four counts of money laundering; and four counts of wire fraud. The first conspiracy count carries a maximum statutory penalty of five years and a $250,000 fine. The statutory penalty for each aggravated identity theft count is two years and a $250,000 fine. The money laundering conspiracy count, each of the money laundering counts, and each wire fraud count carries a maximum statutory penalty of 20 years in federal prison and a $500,000 fine or twice the value of the property involved in the transaction, whichever is greater. In addition, the superseding indictment includes a forfeiture allegation that would require Carson to forfeit eight pairs of Christian Louboutin shoes; one pair of Gucci booties, seven designer handbags, and more than $26,000 seized from two bank accounts.
The government presented evidence at trial that beginning in 2012, Carson and her co-conspirators were involved in a scheme in which they filed false tax returns using stolen identities, some of which belonged to incarcerated individuals. Carson and her co-conspirators converted the tax refunds from debit/Green Dot cards, using shell company bank accounts, into cash and cashier’s checks used to purchase luxury vehicles that they then shipped to Nigeria.
Between May 2012 and May 2014, the defendants and their conspirators paid $1,184,950 from these accounts to purchase used cars from wholesale dealer auctions in Dallas County, and between January 2012 and January 2015, the defendants and their conspirators exported approximately 204 used cars to Nigeria.
Five defendants were charged in the scheme. Segun Edomwonyi, a/k/a “Benny O. Prince,” and Titalayo Idowu Olukoya remain fugitives. Charges were dismissed against Ricardo Garth Solomon. Smith Olsola Akin, 33, pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit money laundering in May 2016, and is to be sentenced in January 2017