The U.S. Attorney’s office in the Middle District of Florida has linked improper police use of the Florida driver’s license database to IRS fraud. Apparently personal information of thousands of Floridians was compromised in an identity theft scheme to defraud that originated from the Tampa police department. A federal grand jury is now looking at possible indictments against members of the Tampa police department reportedly including a fired Tampa homicide detective who allegedly used information gleaned from homicide victims to perpetrate tax fraud and Identity theft. 

For too long police officers have abused their access to personal information of citizens. It’s long been a problem in the Tampa Bay area. Recently a Sergeant with the Clearwater Police Department was found to have used the DAVID drivers license database to gain personal information about other officer’s wives. Officers have also been disciplined for misusing the information for personal benefit in many other ways. 

Ultimately the problem is exasperated in that too many inessential officers have access to the database, this leads to casual use and abuse of the database. The database should be handled with the same care given to the property room where evidence of crimes is kept until needed for trial. Only officers who establish a need to be in the property room are granted entry. Logs are kept of time of entry and leaving with what was taken out. Video cameras record what officers do when in the property room.

If evidence in a cocaine case can be kept safe, so can our personal information. Officers should have to submit daily lists of what information was collected with justification for the need for the information to a superior. Any use without justification should result in an immediate investigation of the officer. If the police are unable to safely guard the personal information in their care, then the information should be taken from every law enforcement officer who has no special need for it and given only upon a showing of proper need to a judge.

Everyone can agree that any clear misuse of the database should result in firing. However, law enforcement officers who misuse the database should not be shielded from criminal prosecution. 


Even savvy street smart Detectives were surprised when serving the warrant in search of drugs at a Tampa Bay hotel room. 

clearwater criminal defense lawyer robert hambrick defends fraud charges in florida
Norman Rockwell, Tax Time, 1945

Instead of the usual things your favorite Clearwater Criminal Defense Lawyer might expect like mountains of cocaine, methamphetamine and heroin enveloped in clouds of smoke, the Detectives found fifteen people sitting around tables furiously filling out fake tax refund forms. 
Rather than tell the officers the complete truth after Miranda was read, “We’re playing a new game called Tax Crosswords…,” apparently the Taxters led the Detectives on a two year odyssey.

Tampa has long been the the epicenter of identity theft and tax refund fraud with Federal and Florida law enforcement doing their best to work as a team despite the stringent secrecy requirements for Federal tax information of citizens making investigations and prosecutions difficult. As reported in this excerpt by Bay News 9 three leaders of the alleged aggravated identity theft and tax fraud conspiracy may have taken as much as half a billion dollars, but even with that much money they never lost sight of their past acquaintances on Facebook nor forgot to apply for their food stamps and Medicaid:which in turn led to multiple grand jury indictments for which have been unsealed.

“She was known as the First Lady,” Maj. Ken Morman said. “That’s what she posted on Facebook.”
Detectives said the three were the kingpins of a ring of people that stole at least a half-billion dollars by filing fake tax returns.
Neighbors said they suspect something wasn’t right at the house.
“We suspected something wasn’t right because of the cameras and nice cars,” said neighbor Dora Hubley.
Twelve other people face charges as well, including one who police said had $23,000 in cash plus benefits cards for food stamps and Medicaid.
Police said it took two years to bring this tax fraud case to a close because of all the bureaucratic red tape. They announced Wednesday that they were forming an investigative alliance with the Internal Revenue Service and the Secret Service to speed these types of cases up in the future.

They better hope a judge doesn’t sentence them to a lifetime of doing taxes, something most of us avoid. If your Conspiracy to Commit Tax Fraud has endangered not only your future freedom but your ability to maintain government subsidies, call Clearwater  Criminal Attorney but don’t expect any refunds and please bring plenty of cash.


Tampa Bay, Pinellas and Miami, Florida have become the epicenter of identity theft tax fraud with thieves stealing social security numbers, then using the information to file fake taxes and to take the tax refund in the form of an IRS credit card. Some argue that the IRS is at fault for making it all too easy to accomplish the crime by sending out immediate tax refunds as credit cards before doing any kind of factual or mathematical examination of the tax forms.

Portrait of a  Clearwater Postman in Largo, Florida
 Van Gogh, Postman Joseph Roulin, 1888

By the time the IRS gets around to verifying the validity of information the money is long gone and at least at this point sadly, I must report that not one dime of it has made it into the willing hands of your favorite Clearwater Criminal Defense Attorney.
The only benefit appears to be that some violent criminals in Florida have traded their guns for laptops giving up doing violent crime for the lucrative, easier and safer pursuit of fake tax refunds fueled by furious acts of identity theft.
One wonders if it’d be easier just to pay criminals not to do violent crime? Happily, this experiment is moving forward with CBS more or less launching a national tutorial on how to conduct tax fraud identity theft crime and Forbes donning identity theft as a fun in the sun Florida vacation crime.
Yet the mournful NYT noted that postal workers have been beaten and one was even killed by Florida tax fraudsters who wanted the postal workers master pass key to gain access to the credit cards being sent to millions of folks across the country from the IRS, apparently to everyone in the United States who is not a Largo Criminal Defense Lawyer.