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Tax Evasion Guilty Plea for Former Florida Legislator

In 16 years of work in the Florida Legislature, Mandy Dawson participated in countless votes which affected the law. She finds herself entangled in legal issues of a different type now, as she is expected to plead guilty to tax evasion charges over money received during her time in office. She now faces a criminal sentence of up to 13 years in prison. She is accused of failing to pay income taxes owed in 2004 and 2005 and for failing to file a return in 2006, 2007 and 2008. Term limits put an end to her time in the Florida Senate in 2008.

The tax evasion charges come at the end of a massive federal corruption investigation that will end in only two convictions. A prominent doctor who claimed to have improperly influenced several Florida politicians, including Governor Crist, is currently serving a four year prison sentence for conspiracy to defraud the U.S. government. He made payments to Ms. Dawson through an aide in her office. Those payments were the income on which she did not pay taxes. The doctor claims that the payments were made to secure Dawson's cooperation in legislation affecting the medical community.

The defendant requested a delay in entering her plea so she could track down the financial documents in question. Tax evasion, like many white collar criminal matters, often involves complicated evidentiary matters. She is scheduled to make her final plea on April 21.

The doctor charged in this affair received a stiff sentence, given the charge against him. It remains to be seen if Ms. Dawson will receive any leniency for her decision to plead guilty. Given the severity of the charges, she is likely to spend significant time in federal prison.

Source: The Miami Herald, "Ex-South Florida politician to plead guilty to tax charges in federal corruption probe," by Jay Weaver, 7 February 2012

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