TALLAHASEE, Fla. – A former state correctional officer last week was sentenced to 25 months in prison for her role in a scheme to file false federal income tax returns using the names and Social Security numbers of state prisoners.

Between November 2008 and March 2010, the conspirators filed fraudulent claims in the names of more than 120 inmates, seeking more than $1.3 million in refunds. Shorter established accounts at Tallahassee-Leon FCU, Florida A& M University FCU and Florida Commerce FCU. Shorter used these accounts to deposit the tax refunds. When they became aware of the fraud, the credit unions proactively returned funds to the IRS. Actual losses to the federal government totaled more than $153,000.

The corrections officer, Kimberly Lewis, 32, and her co-defendant, Christopher Shorter, 34, were sentenced in federal district court in Tallahassee.

Both defendants earlier this year pleaded guilty to charges of conspiracy to defraud the United States, mail fraud, filing false tax returns and aggravated identity theft. Shorter, who also pleaded guilty to wire fraud charges, was sentenced to 96 months in prison.

While working at Appalachee Correctional Institution, Lewis provided the names and Social Security numbers of state prisoners to Shorter, the owner and operator of Complete Solutions Tax Service. Shorter used this information to file false federal income tax returns. The fraudulent returns included false entries concerning wages, names of employers and tax withholding.

Shorter and Lewis also will be required to pay restitution to the federal government in the amounts of $153,062 and $7,295, respectively.


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