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Defendant Ordered To Pay Restitution Of Over $1.1 Million

WASHINGTON D.C. - Eileen J. O’Connor, Assistant Attorney General for the Justice Department’s Tax Division; Paul K. Charlton, U.S. Attorney for the District of Arizona; and Nancy Jardini, Chief, Internal Revenue Service (IRS) Criminal Investigation Division, announced today that at the federal courthouse in Tucson, Arizona, U.S. District Judge David C. Bury sentenced Wayne C. Bentson to four years imprisonment, to be followed by three years supervised release during which he is barred from giving tax advice. Mr. Bentson was also ordered to pay restitution to the IRS in the amount of $1,129,937.

“Scamsters who enrich themselves by encouraging and helping others to hide income and assets from the IRS should expect to be prosecuted and convicted, and to serve time in federal prison,” said Assistant Attorney General O’Connor.

"Those who participate in or encourage taxpayers to willfully evade the payment of income taxes are engaging in criminal activity and will be prosecuted," said Nancy Jardini, Chief, IRS Criminal Investigation Division. "Taxpayers should be wary of anyone claiming to be an expert on how to hide income from the IRS."

On December 13, 2004, Bentson was convicted on charges of conspiracy and willful failure to file his income tax returns. According to the indictment and evidence offered at trial, until May 27, 1997, Bentson operated the Western Information Network and the Bentson Group, both located in Payson, Arizona. He represented that he was a tax expert and falsely advised clients that the internal revenue laws only applied to individuals residing in the Virgin Islands, Guam, and Puerto Rico. He also falsely advised his clients that they were not taxpayers, had not earned income, and were not required to pay federal income tax. Several witnesses testified during the trial that Bentson’s advice compounded their tax problems and that they had been criminally prosecuted.

Evidence at trial also showed that, to conceal his own income from the IRS, Bentson maintained a bank account in the Cayman Islands and instructed his clients to remit payments for his services in the form of cash or checks made out to third parties in order to make it more difficult for the IRS to track the payments.

Assistant Attorney General O’Connor and U.S. Attorney Charlton thanked Assistant U.S. Attorney Robert Miskell and Tax Division Trial Attorney Mark T. Odulio, who prosecuted the case. They also thanked the special agents of the IRS whose assistance was essential to the successful investigation and prosecution of the case.

Additional information about the Justice Department’s Tax Division and its enforcement efforts may be found at <>.