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Sen. Norman aide pleads guilty to not filing tax return

TAMPA — An aide to state Sen. Jim Norman pleaded guilty on Wednesday to a misdemeanor charge that he failed to file a tax return.

U.S. Magistrate Judge Thomas McCoun accepted the plea of Benjamin Kelly, 55. He faces up to one year in prison at sentencing later this year.

U.S. Attorney Robert O'Neill told McCoun that Kelly failed to file tax returns from 2006 through 2010 on about $444,000 in income. Kelly, who declined to comment, owes the IRS more than $20,000, O'Neill said.

Charged with five misdemeanors, Kelly pleaded guilty to one charge; the rest were dismissed.

O'Neill said it was "premature" for him to say whether he would ask a judge to sentence Kelly to prison. The case against Kelly came about during a federal investigation of Norman, R-Tampa.

O'Neill's office examined the 2006 purchase of an Arkansas home by Norman's wife. A lawsuit revealed that Mearline Norman had accepted $500,000 for the house from one of her husband's political benefactors. The case was closed without any charges against Jim Norman.

William R. Levesque can be reached at levesque@tampabay.com or (813) 226-3432.

Sen. Norman aide pleads guilty to not filing tax return 05/30/12 [Last modified: Thursday, May 31, 2012 2:31pm]

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