Nasheba Necia Hunte was sentenced today to 51 months in prison for her role in a conspiracy to defraud the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and for filing false tax returns, the Justice Department and IRS announced. Hunte was also ordered to pay $229,305 in restitution to the IRS.
On March 16, 2012, Hunte and another individual, Elmo Antonio George, were convicted by a jury sitting in Ft. Lauderdale, Fla., for a conspiracy to defraud the IRS that spanned from as early as January 2003 through at least April 2007. Hunte and George were also each convicted of two counts of filing false 2005 and 2006 individual income tax returns, on which they claimed false tax refunds for themselves. George is scheduled to be sentenced on June 29, 2012.
“People who cheat on their taxes are cheating their friends and neighbors and all other law-abiding taxpayers,” said Assistant Attorney General Kathryn Keneally of the Justice Department’s Tax Division. “They are committing a crime and, as the sentence today shows, risking serious jail time. And, in the end, they will still owe the taxes, together with interest and possible civil penalties.”
“The use of shell companies, false claims and aliases to perpetuate a fraudulent tax scheme isn't tax planning, it’s criminal activity,” said Richard Weber, Chief, IRS Criminal Investigation. “There is no secret formula that can eliminate a person’s tax obligations. Today’s sentence reinforces our commitment to every American taxpayer that we will identify and prosecute those who evade the payment of taxes.”
The indictment alleged that in February 2005, George incorporated Winco Holdings Inc. (Winco) in Florida. George and Hunte were the only officers of Winco and despite having no employees and paying no wages, the defendants filed employment tax returns on behalf of Winco for quarters in 2005, 2006 and 2007, that falsely claimed substantial quarterly employment tax withholdings for Winco employees. None of the withholding amounts were paid over to the IRS. In February 2007, a fraudulent check for $1,676,991.16 was written from Winco’s bank account to the U.S. Treasury for Winco’s employment tax obligations. The check was signed “contact maker for authority to pay.”
The indictment also alleged that the defendants filed corporate tax returns for Winco for tax years 2005 and 2006 that reported fictitious partnership losses. These fictitious losses then “passed through” to the defendants’ individual income tax returns along with the false Winco wage and withholding amounts. These withholding amounts generated false refunds for both defendants for tax years 2005 and 2006.
The evidence at trial established that the IRS remitted refunds to George and Hunte totaling approximately $241,807 for tax year 2005. George’s refund was deposited into a joint bank account of another entity, Dikingdom Inc. With the false refund, the defendants bought a home for $145,500 for cash in Villa Rica, Ga. To conceal the purchase of this property and the proceeds of the fraud, George deeded the property to an alias named the Overseer of Dikingdom. George also falsely claimed that a church owned the property. According to evidence presented in court, the total intended tax loss was over $1 million.
The evidence also established that less than one week after IRS-Criminal Investigation tried to contact the defendants, Hunte changed her home address in her employment contact documents from Villa Rica, Ga. to a non-existent address. When IRS-Criminal Investigation Special Agents attempted contact with Hunte, she affirmatively denied who she was to the Agents.
Assistant Attorney General Keneally thanked IRS-Criminal Investigation’s Atlanta Field Office, which investigated the case, and Tax Division Trial Attorneys Rebecca Perlmutter and Chad Edgar, who prosecuted the case on behalf of the United States. Assistant Attorney General Keneally also thanked Wifredo A. Ferrer, U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Florida, and his entire office for their assistance in prosecuting the case.