Niagara Falls, New York, Financial Advisor Sentenced to Prison for Promoting and Using Abusive Tax Shelters
WASHINGTON – Richard Muto was sentenced to 36 months in prison followed by one year of supervised release for corruptly endeavoring to obstruct and impede the due administration of the Internal Revenue laws, the Justice Department and Internal Revenue Service (IRS) announced today. Muto pleaded guilty to the charge in January 2011 after a two-count indictment was filed against him in December 2005.
According to court documents, including the plea agreement, between February 1996 and March 200, Muto was a financial advisor, owning and operating his own business called Tax and Investment Strategies in Niagara Falls, N.Y. Muto admitted that he sold and promoted multi-layered abusive trust schemes on behalf of American Asset Protection based in Palm Beach County, Fla., and later The Aegis Company, based in Palos Hills, Ill.
The scheme as promoted by Muto required the user to purchase and create a series of domestic and foreign trusts and internal business corporations (IBC). The user would subsequently divert personal income into, and place assets into, the purported independent trusts and IBCs to create the impression that the user was relinquishing control of the income and assets through a series of sham paper transactions. The trusts and IBCs, however, secretly remained under the complete control of the user and thus the income and assets diverted into the trusts remained the income and assets of the user. Muto admitted that he knew that the use of the multi-layered trust schemes would cause his clients to file false federal income tax returns with the IRS. He also admitted that he misrepresented to clients and potential clients that, by using the multi-layered abusive trust scheme the clients could legitimately reduce or eliminate their federal income taxes.
According to the plea agreement, Muto also counseled clients to submit frivolous correspondence to the IRS in response to audit notices as a way to intimidate IRS revenue agents and thwart IRS audits of the trusts he was promoting. In addition to promoting the trusts, Muto used the abusive trusts himself, which resulted in his filing of false individual income tax returns for the tax years 1996, 1997 and 1998.
According to the plea agreement, Muto’s scheme caused a tax loss to the United States of more than $1.7 million.
In May 2008, a federal jury in Chicago convicted the six Aegis principals who ran the nationwide scheme out of Palos Hills, and with whom defendant had a business relationship to promote the trusts.
Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General John A. DiCicco commended the IRS Special Agents who investigated the case, as well as Tax Division Assistant Chief John Kane and Trial Attorneys Jeffrey Shih and Thomas Flynn who prosecuted the case.
More information about the Tax Division and its enforcement efforts may be found at www.justice.gov/tax .