Demetrius Antonio Lewis of Land O’Lakes, Florida was arrested Monday after he was accused of fraudulently claiming and cashing tax refund checks under false identities, reports say. Lewis, 37, was taken to the Pasco County Jail on multiple charges, including a single count of organized fraud and eight counts of fraudulent use of personal identification. His bail bond was set at $180,000. It is unclear whether he has retained a private criminal defense lawyer.
Reports suggest that Lewis is no stranger to fraud charges. In November of 2011, he operated the business “Help is Here Foreclosure Prevention and Credit Repair,” which reportedly offered $1,000 classes on how to take over an unoccupied residence by exploiting a loophole dubbed “adverse possession.” Within that law, a person who occupies a property and pays taxes for that property for at least seven years can file for the title of the aforementioned land. However, police were able to charge Lewis with fraud because, contrary to what his class allegedly suggested, the law does not grant anyone the right to take up residence on property that is not theirs.
In this more recent incident, Lewis is facing accusations of cashing tax refund checks under false identities. Detectives reportedly suspect that Lewis gained $58,732 from the scam by cashing eight checks under eight different identities. None of the people whose identities he used were aware of the fraud, sources indicate. The names of the victims have not been released; it is not yet known whether any of them plans on filing legal action against Lewis.
A joint investigation between the IRS and Pasco County Sheriff’s Office, under direction of the FDLE, charged Lewis with the fraud Monday. The investigative team says that is examining other cases related to tax fraud as well.
In other news, more details surrounding the charges brought against Kim Rothstein, Scott Rothstein‘s wife, were released yesterday. The charges allege that Mrs. Rothstein, along with conspirators Scott Saidel and Stacie Weisman, attempted to hide $1 million worth of jewelry from police during a government issued seizure. The trio then allegedly tried to sell the jewelry through contacts Patrick Daoud and Eddy Marin.
Reports say that once Rothstein, Saidel, and Weisman heard of the police seizure, they attempted to hide some valuable jewelry, including a 12-carat yellow diamond ring. Each defendant now faces one count of conspiracy to commit money laundering, reports indicate. If sentenced, they could face five years behind bars apiece; however, recent documents filed in court this past Thursday suggest that each suspect has agreed to discuss making plea deals.
Daoud, who operates the business Daoud’s Fine Jewelry, allegedly agreed to purchase and sell some of the illicit jewelry. Marin was also involved, and reports claim he is a business associate of Daoud’s at his jewelry shop. Both men were arraigned on perjury charges and obstruction of justice last Thursday.
Detectives also accused the group of suspects of conspiring to commit perjury by requesting that Mr. Rothstein omit any knowledge of the 12-carat ring and other hidden jewelry during police questioning. According to reports, collection agencies had been searching for the ring over the months that they had been investing Mr. Rothstein’s Ponzi scheme. “For quite some time we were concerned about what happened to that diamond, given that it was not forfeited to the government when Rothstein was arrested,” an attorney spokesperson told reporters.