If it's one thing every single American citizen knows without a shadow of a doubt, it's not to ever mess with the IRS. You might get away with defrauding Uncle Sam for a time, but you will get caught and the courts will not hesitate to throw the book at you. As we're all either running low on, or just receiving our tax returns this season, there is one woman behind bars for receiving her return every year, multiple times over in other people's names. She's now serving what many consider to be stiff sentence for defrauding and stealing from the government and others. Though that's what may have landed her in prison, that is not what continues to keep landing her on lists as one of the stupidest criminals of all time.
It was 2012, and all seemed to be going well for Rashia Wilson, or as she called herself, the queen of tax fraud. For three years, the first lady of tax fraud, as she also styled herself, had been filing tax returns annually like a good little worker bee. The only problem was she wasn't working anywhere. The multiple identities she was filing under every year had been stolen from others. Nevertheless, she spent the money with no regrets and lived life lavishly. She bought a $90,000 Audi to drive herself and her children around in and also spent $30,000 on her youngest child's first birthday.
Rashia and her boyfriend, Maurice "Thirst" Larry, had been working together on the scheme. The couple raked in millions as investigators were building a big enough case against them, and others like them. Living in Tampa, Florida, they were enjoying the high life as multiple agencies were investigating, unbeknownst to them. Aside from the Tampa Police Department, IRS-Criminal Investigations, the Secret Service, the US Postal Inspection Service, and the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office were also involved in what they dubbed Operation Rainmaker. As if Rashia's frivolous spending weren't enough to draw attention, her proud post to Facebook made it downright easy to indict her. Her written confession, along with a picture of herself holding fat stacks of cash in her hands, was posted to social media for the world to read. It didn't take authorities long to track her down and bring her into custody afterward.
She was so confident in her apparent teflon don status that she posted: "I'M RASHIA, THE QUEEN OF IRS TAX FRAUD...I'm a millionaire for the record, so if U think indicting me will B easy it won't, I promise you!" U need more than black and white to hold me down N that's to da rat who went N told, as if 1st lady don't have da TPD under her spell. I run Tampa right now."
She was, in fact, indicted on charges of wire fraud, aggravated identity theft, and for being a felon in possession of a firearm. She would plead guilty to the firearm charge on December 6, 2012, then the others on April 3, 2013. Evidently, no one was under her spell. They simply hadn't gathered quite enough evidence until she handed it to them on a Facebook post. Along with Rashia, her boyfriend, "Thirst," and others would be charged for stealing from the government. Queen Rashia and King Thirst would quickly find in court that they were not untouchable, or in fact royalty.
Her attorney, Mark J. O'Brien, tried to gain Rashia some leniency by painting a picture of woman that had struggled from birth. Rashia had been born to a mother that struggled with a cocaine addiction, while her father was in prison. In school, she had failed the fifth and sixth grade before dropping out in the seventh. Rashia truly had grown up with nothing, and her attorney stated as much to the court. The issue here is that many people go through just as hard if not worse, and don't steal millions of dollars from the government. His hard knock life defense hardly flew with US District Judge James S. Moody Jr.
Assistant US Attorney Mandy Riedel prosecuted the case along with Assistant US Attorney Sara Sweeney. By the time the trial had started, Rashia had admitted to stealing $3 million. She's suspected of taking upwards of $20 million from the IRS. The trial was fast and swift, ending predictably for everyone else, but evidently not her. As invincible as she saw herself, she forgot that a lengthy record of 40 arrests in her past with convictions for grand theft and burglary made her look even worse behind the defense's table.
The presiding judge stated that Rashia knew full well what she was doing was wrong. He said, "I can't ignore the fact that stole over $3 million from the government." Despite the attempts by her defense to save her from her own selfishness, Rashia was slapped in the face by the book, hard. She dropped her head to the table and began to sob as she was handed a 21-year-long sentence to be served in federal prison. At the time of her sentencing, she was just 27-years-old. Her two children, 12 and 2 at the time, cried and wailed as their mother was sentenced to a term long enough to keep her from bringing them up.
An appellate court's orders forced the judge to recompute her sentence in 2015. Another court date was set, in which she received the same 21-year sentence all over again. Judge Moody Jr. saw no reason in shortening the self-proclaimed queen's sentence. He likely went back over her braggadocious Facebook post before making his final decision.
As if the first lady of tax fraud hadn't made enough waves with her scheme, she continued to do so from behind bars in the Aliceville Federal Correctional Institute in Alabama . As required by law, she had been ordered to pay restitution to the IRS to the tune of $3.1 million. She had been ordered to pay $25 per quarter of the total amount owed by herself and Thirst. She pleaded poverty, stating that she was only making $5.25 every month at the federal prison. Prosecutors found that she actually had deposits of approximately $2,914.43 made over the course of six months. Rashia was far from poverty-stricken, she was simply too greedy to give up what she had worked so hard to steal.
Had Rashia done her homework, she would've known that no one is untouchable when the IRS is concerned. Even Al Capone, a man that ran one the biggest crime syndicates in his era and got away with countless murders, was taken down on one count of tax evasion. Up until Rashia's trial, the only other person to be sentenced as harshly for such a crime was car dealer, Russell B. Simmons. He received 15 years for similar charges.
Some takeaways from this story, you cannot defraud the IRS and get away with it. No one ever has and no one ever will. Never post your crimes online alongside your arrogance. That's the quickest and surest way to get caught. And finally, the more arrogant you are about your crime, the stiffer the sentence you'll probably receive. Arrogance doesn't exactly look much like remorse.