Wednesday, December 13, 2017
News Roundup

Tampa car dealer agrees to plea deal in tax refund scheme

TAMPA — Car dealer Russell Bruce Simmons Jr. drove a Bentley and amassed gold and gems.

He had a pendant that spelled out his initials in 703 diamonds, and a bracelet that glittered with 2,420 diamonds.

But he got rich at the expense of honest taxpayers, he admitted in a plea agreement filed Tuesday in U.S. District Court.

Simmons, 42, helped bilk the government out of nearly $1.2 million in fraudulent tax refunds and tried to get millions more, the document states.

He also laundered the refunds of fellow identity thieves through Simmons Auto Sales Inc., the document states.

Simmons was arrested on a 32-count indictment in May that accused him of wire fraud, false claims against the government, theft of government property and aggravated identity theft.

He agreed to plead guilty to one count of wire fraud and one count of aggravated identity theft.

If U.S. District Judge James D. Whittemore accepts the plea deal, Simmons will then be sentenced. The identity theft charge carries a two-year mandatory sentence and wire fraud could carry up to 20 years.

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

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