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Tuesday, January 6, 2009
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Columbus, Ohio, Accountant Sentenced to 120 Months for Fraud

WASHINGTON – Dennis G. Sartain of Hilliard, Ohio, was sentenced to 120 months in prison by U.S. District Judge Michael H. Watson, the Justice Department and Internal Revenue Service (IRS) announced today. The judge found the tax loss to be more than $1million and the fraud loss to be nearly $3.7 million.

In November 2007, a federal grand jury returned a superseding indictment against Sartain, charging him with conspiracy to defraud the United States, four counts of aiding in the filing of false tax returns, one count of aiding and abetting credit and loan application fraud and one count of aiding and abetting money laundering. In February 2008, Sartain pleaded guilty to all charges. According to court documents, Sartain was the accountant for two Columbus, Ohio, businesses involved in home building and real estate brokerage services.

According to the indictment, Sartain conspired with others to pay the Realtors and others who worked for these two companies "under the table." Court documents asserted that Sartain either prepared false Forms 1099 that underreported the amount of compensation paid to the individuals working for the companies, or he did not prepare and file any Forms 1099 with the IRS reporting any compensation paid. In addition, the superseding indictment alleged that Sartain prepared or helped prepare false individual income tax returns that underreported the income earned and taxes owed by the individuals who had received payments from these companies. Finally, the indictment claimed that Sartain and others shredded and discarded documents and business records and concealed electronic records maintained on computers and memory sticks that were relevant to the investigation.

Sartain also pleaded guilty to filing false individual income tax returns on behalf of himself and his wife. He did not report all of the income he was paid by one of these companies in the years 2001 through 2004. According to the superseding indictment, in two of those four years, Sartain listed his occupation as "unemployed."

Additionally, Sartain admitted aiding in the submission of a false loan application by helping submit false payroll check stubs to a mortgage company. The false payroll stubs misrepresented the loan applicant’s position and salary for the purpose of fraudulently obtaining a mortgage.

Finally, Sartain aided and abetted money laundering by engaging in conduct that contributed to a $54,295 payment to the buyer of a home sold by a local real estate business, according to court documents. That payment represented excess fraudulently obtained loan proceeds derived from the credit and loan application fraud.

"Today’s sentence shows that taxpayers who fail to comply with their federal tax obligations or assist others in doing so will pay a heavy price," said Nathan J. Hochman, Assistant Attorney General of the Justice Department’s Tax Division. "Mr. Sartain has been branded a convicted felon for the rest of his life, will spend ten years in prison, and still has to pay back all of the taxes plus interest and steep penalties."

"Paying individuals ‘under the table’ in an effort to circumvent the tax laws is criminal activity," said Eileen Mayer, IRS Chief, Criminal Investigation. "Unfortunately, there are individuals who are relentless in their efforts to thwart our nation's tax laws; however, we are equally relentless in our efforts to investigative these individuals and hold them accountable."

In addition to the charges for which he was sentenced today, Sartain faces additional charges stemming from a September 2008 indictment for conspiracy, obstruction of justice and witness tampering. This matter is currently scheduled for a December 2008 trial.

Assistant Attorney General Hochman commended the IRS special agents who investigated the case, as well as Tax Division trial attorneys Richard M. Rolwing, Jill M. Cassara and Sean B. O’ Connell, who prosecuted the case.

More information about the Justice Department’s Tax Division and its enforcement efforts is available at