ATLANTA (CN) — The 11th Circuit on Wednesday affirmed that a nonprofit’s owner whose bogus charity collected inmates’ personal information to file fake tax returns must serve out his sentence of 23 years and one month.
Qadir Shabazz ran a national tax fraud scheme from 2009 to 2012 through a fake charity, Indigent Inmate, collecting inmates’ information ostensibly to help them with financial aid, religious support and other assistance.
However, “the evidence at trial established that the nonprofit instead served to enrich Shabazz and his associates at the expense of inmates seeking assistance,” 11th Circuit Judge William Pryor wrote for the three-judge panel.
Indigent Inmate mailed prisoners applications seeking their personal information, including Social Security number and date of birth, and Shabazz used the information to submit fake tax returns and take the tax refunds. Shabazz and his employees also created companies under applicants’ names.
“Shabazz or one of his coconspirators created a corporation in the name of William Malone, Inc., created a William Malone, Inc., account, deposited a fraudulently obtained refund check issued to William Malone, an Indigent Inmate applicant, into that account, and wrote a check drawn on that account to Shabazz. Investigators also found a debit card for the account in Shabazz’s wallet,” Pryor wrote for the unanimous panel.
Authorities searched Shabazz’s home with a warrant, during which an agent found many different credit cards and IDs in a pair of pants Shabazz said were his. In searing Indigent Inmates headquarters, they found 90 fraudulent tax returns.
Shabazz was convicted of conspiracy, wire fraud, aggravated identify theft and theft of government funds.
“Shabazz moved to suppress the contents of his wallet on the ground that the search-warrant affidavit for the Dorsey and Cheney Street addresses did not establish probable cause,” the order states.
He appealed his conviction, claiming that trial court wrongfully admitted evidence and miscalculated his sentencing guidelines, which the 11th Circuit dismissed.
But the 11th Circuit found that his sentence of 277 months in prison is reasonable.
Pryor was joined on the panel by 11th Circuit Judge Julie Carnes and U.S. District Judge for the Middle District of Florida Timothy Corrigan, sitting by designation.