Jason Whitfield did more to Michael Massaline than murder him, authorities say.
Whitfield also stole his victim's identity, then used that information to try to file a fake tax refund from the U.S. government, investigators said.
Authorities on Wednesday announced they had filed additional charges against Whitfield, 28. Whitfield was already in the Falkenburg Jail, where he is awaiting trial on a charge of second-degree murder in the Oct. 24 shooting of Massaline, 26, of Tampa.
Whitfield also is accused of trying to use names, birth dates and Social Security numbers of three fellow inmates in a scheme to file fraudulent tax returns. In all, Whitfield faces four counts of criminal use of personal identification.
Authorities said Whitfield gave the homicide victim and inmates' information to someone outside the jail, along with detailed information about how to commit tax fraud, which was described as rampant inside the Hillsborough County jail system.
"We see a lot of it, believe it or not, almost daily," said Deputy Steven Gray, who is part of the detention security team. "It's no longer a problem; it's an epidemic."
Gray also called the fraud a cancer that "spreads throughout the jail." He estimated between 50 and 60 percent of inmates are involved.
Tax refund fraud has exploded in the Tampa area since late 2010, and officials say local street criminals have stolen hundreds of millions of dollars from the federal government in that time. Nationwide, authorities say, the fraud has cost federal taxpayers billions.
In the scheme, crooks use stolen names, dates of birth and Social Security numbers to file tax returns with bogus financial information to obtain fraudulent "refunds" of thousands of dollars each.
But investigators face numerous hurdles in snuffing out the fraud. On one front, the law restricts information that the Internal Revenue Service can provide to law enforcement. And there are legal limitations on bringing state charges.
In spite of the widespread nature of the jail-based fraud, Whitfield is the first Hillsborough County inmate to face charges.
"Hopefully, this is a start," Gray said. "We've been trying to tackle this problem for a couple of years. It's hard. We've been working with the IRS. We're going to start working with them more."
Hillsborough Sheriff's Cpl. Bruce Crumpler said investigators have struggled with issues involving federal and state jurisdiction in these cases. "Trying to iron out the relationship between the state and federal government and trying to realize what we can and cannot do has been a long process, an arduous process," he said.
A new pilot program in which the IRS may share some information after identity theft victims sign waivers may give law enforcement the tools they need, Crumpler said.
Crumpler said the case against Whitfield is strong. "The evidence is clear and concise about exactly his motives and his intent."
Gray said Whitfield shared specific information on how to commit tax fraud, including what forms to use, what numbers to write on them and Web sites to visit. "It was an A to Z on tax fraud, the process, how to do it," Gray said. "We had a how-to guide, not only written, but verbally."
It's not clear exactly how Whitfield is believed to have obtained the identifying information he is accused of using. But officials said inmates typically have paperwork with that kind of information in their cells, and the open nature of the jail pods can provide opportunities for theft.
Gray said inmates also sometimes sell their own information, either for cash to be used in the canteen or for phone privileges.
Crumpler said the victims in this case were not willing participants in the fraud. He declined to identify the other inmates or to say on what charges they are incarcerated. One of the three recently was transferred to state prison, Crumpler said.
Crumpler said investigators believe they intervened before Whitfield or his outside contacts were able to file the fraudulent tax returns.
Massaline died Oct. 24 after being found in a yard between two duplexes in Tampa's University Area. Authorities arrested Whitfield two weeks later in Osceola County.