Florida prison guard sentenced in Chicago for inmate ID theft scheme

A former Florida prison guard was sentenced in a Chicago courtroom Thursday for stealing the identities of more than 50 inmates and using them to get illegal tax refunds through an accomplice in Illinois.

Cornelius Crumity of Pembroke Pines, Fla., defrauded the IRS out of about $356,000 through the three-year scheme, which he conducted with the help of an Illinois man, according to federal prosecutors.

Crumity pleaded guilty in May 2014 to aggravated identity theft and mail fraud, according to the U.S. attorney’s office. U.S. District Judge Charles Norgle sentenced him to three years in prison Thursday.

Crumity, 39, worked for the Miami Dade County Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation in Florida, where he stole the inmates’ identities, prosecutors said.

He used their information and added incorrect or made-up W-2s, wages and withholding information to file the false returns, prosecutors said. The returns were designed to result in significant refunds — on average, between $5,600 and $6,100 apiece.

He had many of the returns sent to the co-schemer’s address in Illinois, and used the money for himself, officials said.

“Few crimes cause greater harm to society than law enforcement corruption,” prosecutors said in a sentencing memorandum. “These ill effects are compounded when committed in a correctional institution, sending a message to inmates that directly contradicts the government’s goals of rehabilitation and reform.”

Crumity was charged in Chicago because of the funds mailed here, and because officials here investigated the case, authorities said. The co-schemer was not charged in the same case, but is currently in prison on other charges, according to officials and court records.

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