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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
District of Idaho

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Texas Man Pleads Guilty In Idaho Federal Court

Admits Conspiring to File False Claims for IRS Tax Refunds Agreed to Pay Restitution of $1,466,799

POCATELLO – Lawrence Sikutwa, 34, of Dallas, Texas, pleaded guilty today in United States District Court to conspiracy to file false claims for a refund, U.S. Attorney Wendy J. Olson announced. Sikutwa entered his plea before U.S. Magistrate Judge Ronald E. Bush at the federal courthouse in Pocatello.

According to the plea agreement, Sikutwa operated a tax preparation business in Dallas. He entered into an agreement with various co-conspirators in Pocatello and elsewhere to solicit clients for him. The co-conspirators contacted persons who needed tax preparation services, obtained their tax documents from them, and then shipped the information to Sikutwa to prepare the tax returns. Sikutwa added false dependents and false income, falsely claimed head-of-household status, and made other entries to increase the amount of the refund. According to the plea agreement, Sikutwa distributed a small portion of the actual refund to the taxpayer, representing it was the entire refund, and failed to provide copies of the returns to the taxpayers. Sikutwa admitted that he was aware the tax returns were false.

According to the plea agreement, during 2006, Sikutwa filed 168 tax returns for tax year 2005, resulting in refunds of $654,368. In 2007, he filed 124 tax returns for tax year 2006, resulting in refunds of $588,982. Under the name of Harris Tax Services, Sikutwa prepared and filed 99 returns for tax year 2007, resulting in refunds of $456,888. According to the plea agreement, Sikutwa will pay $1,466,799 in restitution to the Internal Revenue Service.

The charge of conspiracy to file false claims for refund is punishable by up to ten years in prison, a maximum fine of $250,000, and up to three years of supervised release.

Sikutwa is set for sentencing on November 18, 2013, before Chief U.S. District Judge B. Lynn Winmill at the federal courthouse in Pocatello.

The case was investigated by Internal Revenue Service-Criminal Investigation.