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Nearly 20 Years in Prison for $100M Tax Refund Fraud Leader

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Posted at 3:58 PM, Apr 07, 2016
and last updated 2016-04-07 15:58:00-04

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. (AP) — A man described by federal prosecutors as the ringleader of a $100 million tax-refund-fraud scheme will spend almost 20 years in federal prison.

A Fort Lauderdale federal judge imposed the sentence Thursday on 27-year-old Harlan Decoste, who previously pleaded guilty to fraud, identity theft and other charges. Decoste had faced a potential maximum of 29 years behind bars.

The Internal Revenue Service estimates the schemers tried to steal more than $108 million in tax refunds using thousands of stolen identities. The IRS says they did obtain more than $28 million in actual fraudulent refunds, spending the money on an extravagant lifestyle.

Four other men have already been sent to prison. The operation run out of a suburban house in Miramar was exposed after a May 2013 home invasion robbery.