Six South Florida Men Sentenced for Multi-Million Dollar Identity Theft

Chad Davis was the "sixth man" in an arrest that took place last August in a case that turned out to be one of the largest Identity Theft and tax fraud cases ever charged by the federal government.

Davis, who was considered to have played a minor role in the scam, was given the shortest sentence of the five others. He is currently serving four months in prison for pleading guilty to one count of possession of fifteen or more unauthorized access devices. He will also submit to three years of supervised release at the conclusion of his prison term.

His sentence was basically just a slap on the wrist in comparison to his codefendant's punishments.

The six men, all from Miramar and Miami pulled off an identity theft tax refund fraud that netted them at least $28 million in false refunds between 2011 and 2013. The massive fraud involved more than thirty thousand stolen identities that were discovered when detectives searched the Miramar home where three of the defendants lived.

Documents found at the residence exhibited that a substantial proportion of the bogus returns were filed using names of deceased individuals, resident workers, and prisoners as well as many average living citizens.  

This scheme was so wide-ranging that the IRS's Criminal Investigations Division agents are still going over documents to establish the depth of the problematic returns. To date, they have uncovered over $100 million in tax returns filed for payment by the men using stolen and bogus identities.

The fraud was conducted under the pretext of a startup rap record label called GroundUp111, created by Harlan Decoste. Others who were sentenced earlier this month (April 2016) were listed as officers of the company. The company produced no music.

The perpetrators may have indeed gotten away with their crime if they didn't call police after three of them were victimized by a home invasion robbery that occurred at the rental home where they resided in Miramar. It was during the police investigation of the robbery that the damning evidence that led to their arrests was found.

To read a recent article posted on my blog that details this case click here.

Remarkably, a staggering similar incident took place in April, 2013 when a confessed burglar told police "something fishy" was going on in a home he burgled in Lauderhill.

Eric Jermaine Spivey and Chenequa Austin were both charged with aggravated identity theft, fraud and conspiracy thanks to the chatty burglary suspect. A Secret Service agent along with a Lauderhill police detective went to the house pretending they were investigating the burglary when they came upon all the evidence needed to arrest the couple. Ultimately, Spivey was sentenced to almost six years in federal prison and Austin was sentenced to three.

In this latest case the five other men were sentenced to lengthy prison terms as well as restitution.

Harlan Decoste who was named the ringleader by federal prosecutors was sentenced to close to twenty years in federal prison. The four other defendants will also be spending substantial time behind bars. Decoste is also facing further federal charges for a similar fraud allegedly perpetrated in Georgia  

Kerby Luma was sentenced to eleven years; Francis Jeudy was sentenced to almost ten years; Andy Cherrelus was sentenced to almost eight years and Frantz Decoste was sentenced to four and one half years. Additionally, all five of the men were ordered to pay restitution in the amount of $28,211,434, severally and jointly.

All five will also be subject to three years of supervised release at the conclusion of their prison sentences.

As noted in the above Web page, the penalties for a crime of this type can greatly vary. An experienced federal identity theft attorney such as Michael Cohen can make the difference between a sentence of twenty years, four months, or even probation. And of course there are many cases where the defendant is wrongly accused.

Mr. Cohen's close to twenty years of experience as a criminal defense attorney in the private sector, specializing in federal criminal cases makes him the correct choice to combat any and all federal charges filed by the government.

His previous experience working for the State of Florida as an Assistant State Attorney for Broward County and for the government as an Assistant United States Attorney gives him a further advantage to give his clients the most favorable case results achievable.