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Woman pleads guilty to stealing Tampa hospital patient IDs

TAMPA — A former hospital housekeeper pleaded guilty Tuesday to stealing patient identities and supplying them to a friend to file fraudulent tax claims.

Tanya Cullens worked at Florida Hospital Tampa, formerly called University Community Hospital.

On Jan. 17, 2012, she took a list of 48 self-paying emergency room patients, her plea agreement states.

Her friend, Alesia Spivey, used 10 of the patients' names, dates of birth and Social Security numbers to collect $44,080 in refunds from the IRS, the court document states.

The first claim was filed immediately, on Jan. 17, 2012. The women attempted to get $79,204, but some of the claims were denied.

"Cullens and Spivey agreed to a 60/40 split for any tax refunds obtained during their conspiracy," the document states, noting that Cullens got the bigger cut.

In one instance, Spivey falsely claimed that a taxpayer (identified by the government only as W.G.) earned $75,292 in taxable income, of which $17,624 was supposedly withheld. The return claimed that the IRS owed "W.G." a refund of $4,209.

"In reality, W.G., who has not worked since 2009, did not earn any income in tax year 2011," the document states.

The IRS paid out the $4,209 refund and it was deposited onto a prepaid debit card that "W.G" didn't even know existed.

Cullens pleaded guilty to one count of aggravated identity theft and one count of conspiracy to defraud the IRS, steal government property and commit wire fraud. She could face up to seven years in federal prison.

Spivey pleaded guilty Friday to two federal charges: one related to tax fraud and the other related to a separate moving expenses scam that victimized a business, Jabil Circuit, and also involved Cullens, records state. Spivey faces five years for each count.

Sentencing dates have not yet been scheduled.

Staff writer Patty Ryan can be reached at pryan@tampabay.com or (813) 226-3382.

Woman pleads guilty to stealing Tampa hospital patient IDs 02/12/13 [Last modified: Tuesday, February 12, 2013 11:57pm]
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