Friday, December 8, 2023

Peninsula Man Pleads Guilty to Defrauding Elderly, Tax Evasion

(WYDaily Media)

HAMPTON — Clarence M. Rice, Jr., of Hampton, pled guilty to charges related to defrauding the elderly and tax evasion.

Rice, 54, pled to charges stemming from incidents that took place between 2013 and 2019. According to the Office of United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia Jessica D. Aber, Rice falsely represented to his victims that he was going to receive a sizeable inheritance as long as he paid off his debts. He then tricked his victims to give him large sums of money under the guise of obtaining the inheritance.

Aber’s office noted that Rice stole more than $350,000 from a 75-year-old retired bricklayer and more than $140,000 from an elderly blind man. The identities of the victims were not further clarified. Rice received $632,017.44 total in fraudulent proceeds from his scheme.

Despite earning this sum as an income, Rice has not filed taxes since 2011. Aber’s office notes that between 2015 and 2019, he defrauded the U.S. Internal Revenue Service (IRS) by “living a cash lifestyle” which included negotiating checks from his victims for U.S. currency instead of depositing said checks into a bank account. Additionally, Rice hid his assets using prepaid cards and lied to law enforcement regarding his income and assets. As a result, he owes approximately $52,064.18 in personal income tax.

Rice pled guilty to the charges of wire fraud and evasion of income tax assessment. Rice’s plea included an agreement that his victims were of limited financial means and suffered substantial hardship as a result of his scheme.

He is scheduled to be sentenced in federal court on May 25, 2022. Rice faces a maximum 20 years in prison for wire fraud as well as a maximum of five years for tax evasion. However, Aber’s office notes that sentences for federal crimes are usually less than the maximum penalties.

Aber’s office notes that combatting elder abuse and financial fraud that targets seniors are key priorities of the U.S. Department of Justice. Elder abuse impacts 10 percent of Americans each year. These crimes include physical abuse, financial fraud, scams and exploitation, caregiver neglect and abandonment, psychological abuse, and sexual abuse.

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