5 sentenced in identity fraud scheme

Published On: Jun 19 2012 06:06:45 PM EDT

A federal judge sentenced five people for their role in a multimillion dollar tax fraud and identity theft scheme.

Bryan Copeland, 33, of Orange Park, was sentenced to 22 years in prison on Monday.

Copeland had pleaded guilty to wire fraud, making false statements against the United States, and aggravated identity theft on Feb. 15. Copeland must also pay $3,547,373.67 in restitution to the IRS.

According to court documents, Copeland filed fraudulent federal income tax returns using stolen identities.

Four others -- Veronica Brown, Devron Tobey, Prientice Hooks and Beatrice Alphonse -- were also sentenced.

Brown, 31, of Jacksonville, was sentenced to 30 months in prison; Hooks, 26, of Jacksonville, and Tobey, 26, of Jacksonville, were sentenced to one year and 1 day in prison; and, Alphonse, 29, of Miami, was sentenced to more than five years in prison.

Brown, Hooks and Tobey must also pay restitution to the IRS, ranging from $313,822.22 to $767,555.

According to court documents, Brown allowed Copeland to use her various addresses to file the returns; Tobey and Hooks opened bank accounts used to receive the money from the fraud; and, Alphonse helped Copeland steal identity information.

The court also heard evidence concerning a Feb. 3, 2010, incident in which Copeland fled from federal agents and tried to toss evidence off the Dames Point Bridge from his moving vehicle. The evidence was recovered.