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California man charged with tax fraud sentenced to time served

A 34-year-old man from California pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy, one count of mail fraud and two counts of wire fraud.  He has already been in jail since August 2008 after being charged on 74 counts.  Prosecutors dismissed 70 of those counts under a plea agreement that he made.

The Santa Clara man was accused of receiving $1.9 million in fraudulent electronic tax returns.  The scheme was said to be so complicated that federal authorities had a difficult time cracking it.  As he has already spent more than five years in custody he is also soon expected to be released from prison.  

While the federal judge apparently could have sentenced him from 10 to 12 years, the sentence instead involved time served, 100 hours of community service and three years of supervised release. "You have tremendous abilities and if you put them to good use, it can benefit society," the judge was quoted as saying. Even the federal prosecuting attorney appeared to believe that this individual had become a law-abiding individual.

The arrest was said to have come about due to surveillance technology that the man charged described as being unconstitutional. The man arrested had argued that evidence obtained should have been tossed due to privacy concerns. The Stingray device said to be used during the surveillance apparently will gather data from nearby individuals as well. The privacy argument objections, however, were overruled due to this individual supposedly using fraudulent information to carry out the purported crimes.

Internet and cyber crime investigations do in some circumstances involve law enforcement actions that may violate an individual's right to privacy. While no one condones criminal wrongdoing on the internet, government officials may overstep their bounds when investigating these matters.

Source: San Jose Mercury News, "$1.9 million tax return fraud: Santa Clara man sentenced to time served," April 8, 2014

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