By Crystal Owens
A Tampa woman is facing 20 years in federal prison after she pleaded guilty Monday to conspiracy to commit money laundering.
As part of a plea agreement with federal prosecutors, Brenda Dozier, 54, agreed to pay approximately $225,000 in restitution to the victims of the money laundering conspiracy and to a forfeiture money judgment in the same amount.
A sentencing date has not been set.
Dozier laundered money from July 2015 through at least November 2015 that had been extorted from residents by conspirators residing in the states and overseas, according to U.S. Attorney Maria Chapa Lopez.
Her India-based conspirators extorted money by impersonating IRS officers and misleading victims to believe that they owed money and would be arrested and fined if they didn’t immediately pay their alleged back taxes. As part of the conspiracy, Dozier opened bank accounts, which she used to receive the fraud proceeds, typically via interstate wire transfers, according to U.S. Middle District of Florida court records. Once Dozier had retrieved the funds, she provided the money to her co-conspirators. Dozier was paid for opening the accounts and conducting the transactions.
Three of her co-conspirators, Nishitkumar Patel, Hemalkumar Shah and Sharvil Patel, were charged on Oct. 11 in a related case with conspiracy to commit wire fraud and extortion, and with individual counts alleging wire fraud, extortion, money laundering and aggravated identity theft for their roles in the scheme.
Their trials are scheduled to begin in April 2019 in U.S. Middle District Court in Tampa.
The case was investigated by the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration, the IRS–Criminal Investigation, the Florida Department of Law Enforcement and the Tampa Police Department. It is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Rachel K. Jones.