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Miami-Dade Police Officer Brought Up On Charges for Stealing Thousands in Federal Funds as a College Student

A 28-year-old Miami Dade police officer is being brought up on charges for being part of a ring of students who stole more than a half a million dollars from the IRS by filing phony income tax returns. While a student at Miami-Dade College (MDC) in 2013, Ebony Nesbitt, was allegedly part of a group of students who used the names and Social Security numbers of over 600 taxpayers to receive thousands of dollars into their Higher One college bank accounts that were used for receiving financial aid and tuition-paying purposes.

In 2014, 18 MDC students were arrested; Nesbitt was not one of them. Nesbitt went on to become a Miami Dade police officer but was arrested in August 2018 on the same charges. Currently, she's waiting for her indictment that will take place on September 12th, while being put on leave without pay until the situation has been cleared up.

The Case Against Ebony Nesbitt

According to the indictment, in October 2013, Nesbitt's Higher One account received a total of $7,573 in another person's name from the Treasury Department. On the same day, a co-conspirator withdrew $502 from the account using her debit card. A week later Nesbitt received a check for $7,068.50 from Higher One back as her account was closed. A former boyfriend of Nesbitt is also being brought up on separate, but similar charges for receiving two checks totaling over $16,000.

According to an article that appeared in the Miami Herald, Nesbitt's defense attorney Frank Prieto, says the mother of two is a model citizen in her community. "If there was any wrongdoing in this case, we'll get to the bottom of it," Prieto said after her arrest. The case against Nesbitt was made just as the statute of limitations was on the verge of expiring.

In recent years tax-related identity theft has dropped significantly, as much as 40% from 2016 to 2017. Unfortunately, it's still considered one of the "Dirty Dozen" most common tax scams. The statute of limitations on tax fraud often changes depending on the severity of the case.

The Statute of Limitations on Tax Fraud Charges

It's not wise to try to get away with tax fraud, but the IRS does have a statute of limitations on most tax issues. The statute of limitation never really runs out when it comes to fraud, but the IRS doesn't go back too far very often. For the most part, it can be tricky to prove the fraud and the IRS bears the high burden of proofing fraud occurred.

Usually, the IRS has three years after you file the return to audit you, but depending on the severity of the fraud, the years start to build. Just remember, if you file a false return or under report your income, the stakes can continue to rise.

The rules for how long the IRS has to come after you change often, and so do the criminal charges and potential prison time. Section 6531(2) of the tax code states that the statute is six years commencing once the return is filed, or from the time you willfully failed to file a return. In Ebony Nesbitt's case, she was just a few months short of hitting the six-year limitation.

What to Do If You've Committed Tax Fraud

There are ways to get yourself back into the good graces of the IRS and Treasury Department, but you can't do it alone. Your best bet is to hire an experienced criminal defense attorney who knows their way around tax laws. While it can be tricky, it's much easier once you reach out for help.

References:

Weaver, J. (2018, August 31). Before she became a cop, she stole thousands from the IRS, feds say. Retrieved September 5, 2018, from https://www.miamiherald.com/news/local/crime/article217660710.html

Despite Major Progress, Identity Theft Still on IRS 'Dirty Dozen' Tax Scams List. (2018, March 7). Retrieved September 5, 2018, from https://www.irs.gov/newsroom/despite-major-progress-identity-theft-still-on-irs-dirty-dozen-tax-scams-list

Despite Major Progress, Identity Theft Still on IRS 'Dirty Dozen' Tax Scams List. (2018, March 7). Retrieved September 5, 2018, from https://www.irs.gov/newsroom/despite-major-progress-identity-theft-still-on-irs-dirty-dozen-tax-scams-list

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