Highest sentence on record for tax fraud gets #1 spot on the IRS Top Ten

We conclude our series on the IRS Top Ten Identity Theft Prosecutions of 2015 with the highest sentence received to date for identity theft and tax fraud.


James Lee Cobb III


Tampa, Florida

What he did

From around January 2011 through November 2013, convicted felon James Lee Cobb III and his wife Eneshia Carlyle conspired with others to obtain the personal identification information of an estimated 7,000 individuals. They filed fraudulent tax returns, claiming approximately $3 million in false tax refunds.

How he did it

Cobb and his wife obtained the personal identification information of 7,000 people from a number of medical institutions, including a VA Hospital, the Florida Hospital Tampa, a medical billing company and at least one out-of-state ambulance service. Cobb, his wife, and other co-conspirators filed fraudulent tax returns, claiming approximately $3 million using the stolen identities. At the time, Cobb was on supervised release from a prior federal conviction.

Police investigators found the names and social security numbers in Cobb’s home, as well as a loaded handgun and a semi-automatic AR-15-style rifle with a fully-loaded 30-round magazine.

Cobb was caught following an extensive coordinated investigation by the Internal Revenue Service, Tampa Police Department, Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives, Inspector General of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs and Tampa Bay Identity Theft Alliance.

The charges

Cobb pleaded guilty to:

  • Conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud – 18 U.S.C. 1349
  • Five counts of wire fraud – 18 U.S.C. 1343
  • Five counts of aggravated identity theft – 18 U.S.C. 1028A
  • Illegal possession of a firearm by a convicted felon

The sentence

Cobb was sentenced to 27 years in prison, his sentence most likely increased due to the use of stolen healthcare information. Note that Cobb’s firearm charge, in and of itself, carries a sentence of up to 15 years in prison.

Criminal Tax and Financial Fraud Defense

Identity fraud schemes are usually accompanied by violations of other laws, which also carry substantial penalties such as extensive time in prison and significant fines. Contact the criminal tax defense attorneys at Moskowitz, LLP to learn more.

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