Case News Release
July 8, 2013:Tawana Scott, 31, of Houston, was sentenced in U.S. District Court to 39 months in federal prison after pleading guilty to Aggravated Identity Theft and Conspiracy to Commit Mail Fraud. Scott was accused in court documents of conspiring to defraud the Harris County Tax Office and the Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts through the U.S. Mail. Scott was ordered to pay $161,804 in restitution to the Harris County Tax Office. Scott’s case, filed as cause number 4:11CR00238-002, was jointly investigated by the U.S. Postal Inspection Service and the Texas Comptroller's Criminal Investigation Division, and prosecuted by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Texas.
Tax-Related and Other Criminal Investigations
The Criminal Investigation Division investigates crimes defined in other statutory codes, when the crime is related to the Comptroller's office. Most common are tax-related investigations of violations of the Texas Penal Code. Case examples include:
- forgery cases involving counterfeit checks that appear to be issued by the state through the Comptroller of Public Accounts; and
- cases involving tampering with a governmental record, usually false entries made in documents that must be filed with the Comptroller's office.
In some cases, Penal Code charges are pursued when Tax Code chapters specifically allow the state to prosecute criminal conduct under the Tax Code or other law (see, for example, Tax Code §151.7101). The offense of Misapplication of Fiduciary Property, an offense under section 32.45 of the Penal Code, may be charged instead of Failure to Pay Taxes Collected, a crime under Chapter 151 of the Tax Code.
If facts develop in a CID investigation that indicate a federal crime may have been committed, CID may contact the federal law enforcement agency (LEA) that would have jurisdiction over a potential case. The case may continue to be investigated jointly by CID and the federal agency, or adopted by it entirely. At the conclusion of the investigation, if there is probable cause to believe a federal crime has been committed, the federal LEA serves as the case sponsor for prosecution with the appropriate United States Attorney Office having jurisdiction.
When a consumer pays sales tax, he or she does so trusting the retailer will forward that money to the state. When an unscrupulous retailer obtains that tax money, then breaks the trust by intentionally failing to remit that money — perhaps keeping, investing, or spending it — the consumer and the entire state are victimized. SB 934 dramatically raises the stakes for anyone caught defrauding Texas taxpayers in this way...