Tampa woman pleads guilty in $2.2M fraud case
TAMPA - Rashia Wilson, who stole millions from federal taxpayers and then taunted authorities on Facebook, pleads guilty to charges of wire fraud and aggravated identity theft.She had a seventh-grade education and a learning disability. Yet, Rashia Wilson said she had no problems stealing from the IRS. Wilson, who stole millions from federal taxpayers and then taunted authorities on Facebook, pleaded guilty today to charges of wire fraud and aggravated identity theft. Wilson called herself “the queen of IRS tax fraud,” and said in a Facebook posting, “IM' A MILLIONAIRE FOR THE RECORD SO IF U THINK INDICTING ME WILL BE EASY IT WONT I PROMISE U!”Five months later, a federal grand jury indicted Wilson on a weapons offense. Two months after that, she and her boyfriend, Maurice J. Larry, were indicted on 57 federal charges related to tax fraud. Wilson already has pleaded guilty to the weapons charge and is awaiting sentencing. Today, Wilson faced a federal magistrate and admitted to the tax fraud. The charges to which she pleaded guilty carry a combined maximum punishment of 22 years in federal prison, although she likely will receive less under her plea agreement. Known for her brazen big spending and bravado, Wilson was more subdued in court today, saying, “Guilty, sir,” when asked by a federal judge how she was pleading to the two charges. But U.S. Magistrate Thomas Wilson, who is not related to the defendant, was flabbergasted at what Rashia Wilson able to do. When the defendant told the judge she had a seventh-grade education, the judge semed astonished. “Did you have trouble preparing these income tax returns?” he asked. “No, sir,” she replied. “I’m curious whether anybody in the government paid any attention to what they were sending out,” the judge said, asking how fast the defendant received a particular refund. The defendant conferred with her lawyer, Mark J. O’Brien, who told the judge, “I don’t think she’s in a position to answer that question.” “I want to know why the people in the IRS aren’t paying more attention to what’s going on,” the judge said. “I’m focusing on their failure, not hers. I’m curious to know if she got the returns really fast because they’re so concerned with getting the refunds out fast that no one’s paying any attention.” O’Brien then told the judge that the defendant received a particular refund in “a couple of weeks.” Among the items Rashia Wilson agreed to give up as part of her plea deal are a 2013 Audi A8L, purchased with $90,000 from tax fraud; a necklace with her name “Rashia” spelled out in jewels; Louis Vuitton, Gucci and Prada designer handbags; and an 80-inch flat-screen television. The conspicuous wealth all came from a woman who collected $668 a month in food assistance from the state while stealing an estimated $2.2 million in fraudulent tax refunds. All told, Wilson and her boyfriend filed tax returns claiming more than $3 million in fraudulent refunds, according to court documents. At the same time, Rashia Wilson reported no employment income in her own name to the IRS. Today, her lawyer also told the judge his client for a time collected disability income from Social Security after she was diagnosed with an unspecified mental illness as a teen. In applying for the food assistance benefit, Wilson claimed she earned $200 a month working as a hairstylist. Now, under her plea agreement, Wilson consented to a forfeiture judgment of $2.2 million. Rashia Wilson reserved the right to challenge the government’s calculations. Also today, Larry’s lawyer filed a plea agreement with the court in which Larry says he will plead guilty to similar charges. According to their plea agreements, the pair began committing fraud at least as far back as April 2009. Investigators who searched Wilson’s home and a storage unit used by Larry found thousands of names and Social Security numbers in ledgers and other records, including medical billing records.