The law is complicated, and sometimes you find yourself on the wrong side without even knowing it.  For example, who would have thought that submitting fake tax returns for a host of your fellow inmates, opening multiple bank accounts to receive the money, and then buying drugs with it, smuggling them back into prison, and pocketing the profits would be illegal?

The mother-son team in this fraud story from KSDK.com allegedly did know it was illegal; and yet they went through with it anyway.  Now, they’ll pay the consequences.  Barbara Singletary pleaded guilty this August for helping her imprisoned son commit the crimes.

As the only member of the team not in prison (briefly), she opened bank accounts and helped file returns to 11 separate state taxing authorities.  She also acted as power of attorney for multiple inmates.  (Good clean family fun!)  The total damage: $164,288 in fraud.  And…what was the money used for?  To buy drugs that were smuggled into prison for her son and his friends.  (Free money used to buy and sell drugs to increase profits.  They don’t need to go to business school – they are experts in profit margins.)

Singletary will now join her son for a one year prison sentence, before facing six months of home confinement and three years of supervised release.  She’ll also have to repay close to $90,000.  (What about the rest of it?)  As for her son, Michael Chaney – he’s already serving 100 months for a prior drug conviction and 63 months for assault.  To that the state added an additional four and a half year sentence, which he will begin once his other sentences are complete.  (Perfect, already 163 months. Let’s add some more!)  Sentences like these should send a clear and unambiguous message to anyone attempting a similar scheme:  yes, it is illegal.  And, finally, we’re beginning to prosecute it.

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