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MONTGOMERY -- A Phenix City man was sentenced Thursday to 30 years in prison for his role in masterminding the theft of thousands of identities for fraudulent tax refunds in a scheme whose victims reached from Opelika to Alabama prisons and inside Fort Benning.

William Anthony Gosha III, a/k/a Boo Boo, had previously been convicted in November of one count of conspiracy, 22 counts of mail fraud, three counts of wire fraud, and 25 counts of aggravated identity theft. 

Gosha's sentence was announced Thursday by U.S. Attorney Louis V. Franklin, Sr. of the Middle District of Alabama, and Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Richard E. Zuckerman of the Justice Department’s Tax Division, according to a Department of Justice news release issued Thursday.  

According to evidence presented at his trial and sentencing, Gosha ran a large-scale identity theft ring with co-conspirators between November 2010 and December 2013.  Prior to Gosha’s sentencing, thirty of his co-conspirators had been sentenced, including Tamika Floyd, who previously worked at two Alabama state agencies in Opelika: the Department of Public Health and the Department of Human Resources.

Together the co-conspirators filed more than 8,800 tax returns with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) that sought more than $22 million in fraudulent refunds.  From those, the IRS paid out approximately $9 million.

In 2010, Gosha stole the identities of inmates from the Alabama Department of Corrections and provided the IDs to a woman named Keshia Lanier who used the information to seek fraudulent tax refunds.  Gosha and Lanier agreed to split the proceeds. 

In 2012, Lanier needed a new source of stolen IDs and approached Floyd, who worked in Opelika at two Alabama state agencies.  At both agencies, Floyd had access to the personal ID information of individuals, including teenagers.  Lanier requested that Floyd primarily provide her with identities that belonged to 16- and 17-year-olds.  Floyd agreed and provided ID information for thousands of names.

After receiving the additional stolen IDs, Gosha recruited Tracy Mitchell and her family to help file the fraudulent tax returns.  Mitchell worked at a hospital located at Fort Benning, Ga., where she had access to the personal information of military personnel, including soldiers who were deployed to Afghanistan.  She stole soldiers’ IDs and used their information to file fraudulent returns.

In addition to serving the 30-year imprisonment, Gosha was ordered by U.S. Chief District Court Judge Keith Watkins to serve three years of supervised release and to pay restitution in the amount of $9,052,049.

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