FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE|
FRIDAY, MARCH 26, 2004
TDD (202) 514-1888
TWO OFFICERS OF BENTON MANUFACTURING CONVICTED
FOR TAX FRAUD IN CHATTANOOGA, TENNESSEE
Defendants Conspired To Hide Income And Assets From Irs
WASHINGTON, D.C. - Eileen J. O’Connor, Assistant Attorney General for the Tax Division of the Department of Justice, and Sherree W. Preston, Special Agent in Charge, Internal Revenue Service, Criminal Investigation, today announced the conviction of Charles Stone and his wife, Dora Stone, for conspiring to defraud the IRS in violation of 18 U.S.C. §371. In addition, Mr. and Mrs. Stone were convicted on felony charges of income tax evasion for 1993, 1994 and 1995, in violation of 26 U.S.C. §7201. Sentencing of Mr. and Mrs. Stone is scheduled for August 6, 2004.
Conspiring to defraud the IRS carries a maximum penalty of five years imprisonment, a $250,000 fine, or both. Each violation of the felony income tax evasion statute carries a maximum penalty of five years imprisonment, a $250,000 fine, or both.
“Tax fraud is a serious crime,” said Assistant Attorney General Eileen J. O'Connor. “In addition to serving time in prison, convicted tax criminals still have to pay their taxes along with interest and penalties.”
“The prosecution of individuals who intentionally conceal income and evade taxes is a vital element in maintaining public confidence in our tax system,” stated Sherree W. Preston, Special Agent in Charge, IRS Criminal Investigation, Nashville Field Office. “We should not expect the honest taxpayer to foot the bill for those who hide income from the government.”
Charles Stone was the president, and Dora Stone, the secretary and treasurer, of Benton Manufacturing Company, Inc. The indictment had alleged they controlled Benton's corporate bank and credit card accounts. The defendants were accused of using the accounts to obtain cash and to pay personal expenses for remodeling projects, lavish vacations and vacation property, lawn care services, oil paintings, furniture, clothing and jewelry. Evidence at trial established that the defendants prepared false books and records which caused the company's return preparer to treat the personal expenditures as legitimate business expenses. The Stones filed fraudulent income tax returns which did not report those amounts as income, evading individual income taxes totaling $135, 878. The defendants also made false statements and provided backdated or otherwise false documents to the IRS to conceal their ownership of real estate.
A third defendant, L. Byron Woody, was acquitted of the conspiracy charge.
Justice Department trial attorneys Stephanie D. Evans, Kris Hrones and Glenn Makl prosecuted the case. Special agents of the Internal Revenue Service also provided essential assistance to the successful investigation and prosecution of the case.