A dad and daughter duo who tricked the Internal Revenue Service out of millions of dollars will spend less time in prison than originally expected.
U.S. District Judge Robin Rosenberg decided Friday that 35-year-old Danielle Takeila Edmonson will spend six years behind bars, while her father, 51-year-old Kenneth Roger Edmonson, will be in prison for just over four years.
The Broward County father-daughter pair claimed that the government owed them $175 million in tax refunds on their lottery winnings.
They began filing a series of fake tax returns, some handwritten, in 2015. The income, which allegedly came from lottery winnings and bonds, was later determined to be fake. However, the IRS paid the Edmonsons $3.4 million before realized the pair never had a winning ticket, according to prosecutors.
The IRS sent Danielle Edmonson a check for $239,700 five years ago. In 2016, they sent her another check for $2.5 million. In 2018, the agency paid Kenneth Edmonson almost three-quarters of $1 million.
The IRS estimates that it paid out $1.7 billion dollars in invalid refunds in 2016, according to a 2018 report published by the U.S. Government accountability office. It later caught about 84 percent of fraudulent filings from that year.
The duo claimed to be “Moorish sovereign citizens” who are immune to the authority of United States government. They were convicted of mail fraud and making false statements by a federal jury in West Palm Beach on Dec. 20 of last year.
Court filings made by Danielle Edmonson after her arrest in March 2019 discuss her motivations: “I am an aboriginal indigenous Moorish American national,” she wrote in a handwritten motion from jail demanding hundreds of millions of dollars from the government as restitution for her allegedly unjust imprisonment.
She also demanded her immediate release and claimed, “nothing stands between myself and the creator.”
The Southern Poverty Law Center, a nonprofit group that tracks American extremist groups, describes Moorish Sovereign Citizens as a small sect that believes “African Americans constitute an elite class within American society with special rights and privileges that convey on them a sovereign immunity placing them beyond federal and state authority.”
Federal courts have repeatedly rejected claims of immunity made by sovereign citizens.