Former TPD employee indicted in fraud ring

Posted at 2:29 AM, Sep 16, 2015

A federal grand jury has charged a former Tampa Police Department employee for her alleged role in a tax-refund theft-ring.

53-year-old Tonia Bright is the first former TPD employee to be charged in connection with an alleged tax refund fraud ring that potentially targeted thousands of people and has been under investigation for more than a year.

The indictment alleges Bright used law enforcement computer databases to obtain people's personal information, which was then used to commit identity theft.

The I-Team first reported on the alleged ring last year, after a federal search warrant alleged bright supplied victims' personal information to her friend, Rita Girven, who was a long-time Tampa Police Department confidential informant.

Girven pleaded guilty to two federal charges related to tax refund fraud in March, but will not be sentenced until November.

The federal search warrant from last year alleged Bright and Girven conspired with former Tampa Police Officers Eric Houston and his wife Lajoyce Houston to commit tax refund fraud.

Both Houstons were fired from the police force, but neither has been charged in the federal investigation.

Bright pleaded not guilty in connection with the nine-count indictment.