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Justice News

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

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Texas Man Sentenced In Idaho Federal Court For Tax Fraud

Defendant Will Pay Over $1.4 Million in Restitution for Conspiring to File False Claims
for IRS Tax Refunds

POCATELLO – Lawrence Sikutwa, 34, of Dallas, Texas, was sentenced today in United States District Court to 21 months in prison for conspiracy to file false claims for a refund, U.S. Attorney Wendy J. Olson announced. Chief U.S. District Judge B. Lynn Winmill also ordered Sikutwa to serve three years of supervised release and pay $1,466,799 in restitution to the Internal Revenue Service. He pleaded guilty to the charge on August 28, 2013.

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.

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