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Clearwater minister accused of aiding in tax scam

in The Bay and the 'Burg by

A Clearwater minister has admitted to cashing $755,900 in tax refunds that were received using stolen identities.

The Tampa Bay Times reports 56-year-old Sylvester Banks Jr. is expected to plead guilty to theft of government funds during a first appearance hearing in Tampa on Wednesday. The crime is punishable by up to 10 years in prison.

Officials say Banks admitted in a plea agreement to taking part in the scheme and keeping a “small portion” for himself. He is characterized in court papers as a middleman who helped others who were running the scam against the IRS.

Banks comes from a family of ministers and is pastor of Bible Church of God in Clearwater.

His attorney calls him a “decent man” who got caught up in the scheme.

Republished with permission of The Associated Press.

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