Former Tampa detective pleads guilty in tax-refund scheme

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TAMPA, Fla. (AP) – A former Tampa police detective faces up to 10 years in prison for her part in a tax-refund scheme.

A U.S. attorney’s office news release says 51-year-old LaJoyce Houston pleaded guilty Wednesday to receiving stolen government property. A sentencing date hasn’t been set.

Authorities say Houston received goods, services, money orders and cash from debit cards loaded with fraudulently obtained tax refunds in 2011 and 2012. The accounts connected to these debit cards contained more than $284,000 in fraudulent refunds. Payments to Houston came from Rita Girven, who was sentenced in 2015 to 12 years in prison for conspiracy to commit wire fraud and aggravated identity theft.

Houston’s husband, former Tampa detective Eric Houston, pleaded guilty to receiving stolen government property in March. His sentencing is set for Oct. 25.

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