Tuesday, November 21, 2017
News Roundup

Ex-Tampa Housing Authority worker admits role in tax fraud

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TAMPA — A former Tampa Housing Authority worker has admitted in a plea agreement that she and another woman collaborated to defraud the government by filing 22 tax refund claims in other people's names.

Of those, 20 were filed through the agency's Internet connection, the document states.

Leah Lang, 43, worked for the Housing Authority for five years, from 2005 to 2009, based in a community relations office at Robles Park Village.

Conspirator Patricia Shaw, 37, prepared the returns, the record states, and the IRS paid out $101,823 in Treasury checks.

Lang opened a Bank of America account in the name of "The Double Dutch Connection," which she represented as a nonprofit youth organization.

She deposited the Treasury checks and withdrew $36,900 in cash before the bank became suspicious and froze remaining funds, the agreement states.

In an era of rampant stolen identity refund fraud, the arrangement described in court records sounds more like borrowed identity refund fraud: In some cases, individuals allowed their identities to be used in exchange for a fee.

Lang, arrested in February, is expected to plead guilty at a change of plea hearing Thursday to a federal charge of making a false claim, punishable by up to five years in prison.

Shaw already is serving a two-year sentence.

Staff writer Patty Ryan can be reached at [email protected] or (813) 226-3382.

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