News and Press Releases

Former Tribal Council Member Sentenced for Tax Fraud

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
August 10, 2012

Wifredo A. Ferrer, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Florida, and José A. Gonzalez, Special Agent in Charge, Internal Revenue Service, Criminal Investigation Division (IRS-CID), announced that defendant David Roger Cypress, of Clewiston, Florida, was sentenced yesterday by United States District Judge Kathleen Williams to eighteen months’ imprisonment, followed by one year of supervised release. Cypress previously pled guilty to a one count Information charging him with filing a false 2007 United States federal income tax return, in violation of Title 26, United States Code, Section 7206(1).

According to the Information filed on March 30, 2012, and other court documents filed and statements made in court, Cypress was a duly elected representative for Big Cypress reservation to the governing Tribal Council of The Seminole Tribe of Florida from at least 1999 to June, 2010. In his capacity as a Tribal Council representative, Cypress had the authority to authorize distributions to Tribal members, including to himself and to his family members. Cypress admitted that while he was a Tribal Council representative, he authorized substantial distributions to be paid to or for the benefit of himself and his family members.

Specifically, Cypress received approximately $285,433 in taxable distributions from The Seminole Tribe of Florida, which he knowingly and willfully failed to report on his 2007 federal tax return. The unreported income consisted of payments made to certain vendors for personal expenses paid on his behalf. The vendors would submit vouchers requesting payment to The Seminole Tribe of Florida, which were coded to conceal the fact that Cypress was the beneficiary of the payments and falsely described the reason for payment. Cypress authorized payment of these vouchers knowing the true basis of the request for payment, and that he was to be the beneficiary of the payment. Correct copies of the vouchers were also provided by the vendors, then destroyed.

In addition to his plea of guilty to the criminal charge, as part of the plea agreement Cypress agreed to pay $5,457,889 as restitution to the IRS, which includes tax, interest and penalties which the IRS has determined are due and owing by him for tax years 2003 - 2009 as of March 15, 2012.

U.S. Attorney Wifredo A. Ferrer stated, “Failure to report income to evade the payment of taxes is a crime. The U.S. Attorney’s Office is committed to enforcing our nation’s tax laws.”

“Indian Tribal members are individually responsible for reporting and paying taxes on the benefits and payments received from their tribes. Willful failure to file accurate income tax returns can result in severe criminal consequences,” said José A. Gonzalez, Special Agent in Charge of IRS-Criminal Investigation Division, Miami Field Office. “Our justice system penalizes those who file fraudulent tax returns and intentionally evade paying their fair share of taxes.”

Mr. Ferrer commended the investigative efforts of the IRS-CID. This case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Carolyn Bell and Adrienne Rabinowitz.

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A copy of this press release may be found on the website of the United States Attorney's Office for the Southern District of Florida at http://www.usdoj.gov/usao/fls. Related court documents and information may be found on the website of the District Court for the Southern District of Florida at http://www.flsd.uscourts.gov or on http://pacer.flsd.uscourts.gov.

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