As the Tax Deadline Looms, Federal Prosecutions are in Full Bloom
ATLANTA, GA - With the April 17, 2012, tax filing deadline rapidly approaching, the United States Attorney’s Office and the Internal Revenue Service announced their continued commitment to the investigation and prosecution of those who violate federal tax laws.
United States Attorney Sally Quillian Yates said, “Nobody enjoys paying taxes, but everyone has to pay their fair share. As Tax Day (April 17) approaches, we urge the residents of our community to comply with their tax obligations or be prepared to face the consequences.”
Rodney E. Clarke, Special Agent in Charge of IRS Criminal Investigation said, “Nothing undermines confidence in our tax system more than the impression that the average taxpayer has to pay taxes while the dishonest taxpayer is allowed to get away with not paying their fair share. Our mission at IRS is to deter tax crimes through education and publicity. By educating the public about tax scams and letting citizens know that we are committed to identifying, investigating and vigorously prosecuting offenders, we hope to deter potential tax cheats and fraudsters. I would like to personally thank the United States Attorney's Office for the Northern Judicial District of Georgia for their dedication and commitment to the effective prosecution of tax crimes in the North Georgia area.”
Although tax prosecutions tend to be highlighted during April every year, the United States Attorney’s Office and the Internal Revenue Service investigate and charge tax fraud throughout the year, not just during the time of year that many refer to as “tax season.” In the last two months alone, several defendants were indicted, convicted, or sentenced on tax charges:
- Most recently, on April 3, 2012, a federal grand jury indicted STEPHEN PAUL THOMAS, 46, and PATRICIA DENESE ANDERSON, 50, of Lawrenceville, Georgia, on federal charges of conspiring to defraud the United States and making false claims upon the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). THOMAS also faces charges of failing to file income tax returns in 2005 and 2006. Agents arrested ANDERSON on these charges on April 9, 2012. She was arraigned today before United States Magistrate Judge C. Christopher Hagy, and was released on bond.
According to United States Attorney Yates, the charges and other information presented in court: THOMAS and ANDERSON, who jointly owned and operated an outdoor yard furnishing store and general contracting business in Duluth, Georgia, established business bank accounts with fictitious tax identification numbers and submitted false claims for refunds to the IRS. THOMAS also failed to file income tax returns in 2005 and 2006, despite earning gross income in excess of the amount that requires the filing of a return. THOMAS and ANDERSON corresponded with the American Rights Litigators, an organization that sold and promoted tax defiance schemes. The charges each carry a maximum sentence of 1-5 years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000. In determining the actual sentence, the Court will consider the United States Sentencing Guidelines, which are not binding but provide appropriate sentencing ranges for most offenders. Assistant United States Attorney Christopher C. Bly and Department of Justice Tax Division Trial Attorney Thomas Krepp are prosecuting the case.
- On April 2, 2012, GEORGE DAYLN HOUSER, 63, of Atlanta, Georgia, was convicted on healthcare fraud and tax fraud charges. HOUSER withheld over $800,000 in federal payroll taxes from his employees’ paychecks, but did not pay that money over to the IRS. HOUSER was also convicted of failing to file personal income tax returns for 2004 and 2005. HOUSER is scheduled to be sentenced in Rome on June 29, 2012, before U. S. District Judge Harold L. Murphy. This case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Will Traynor and Glenn Baker.
- On March 14, 2012, LAWANDA MITCHELL, 31, of Atlanta, Georgia, was sentenced by United States District Judge Richard W. Story to serve 3 years and 3 months of imprisonment followed by 5 years of supervised release, for her conviction to one count of aggravated identity theft and one count of wire fraud. MITCHELL was indicted by a federal grand jury on June 15, 2010, along with co-defendants KEVON KERR, 36, of Atlanta, Georgia, TYRONE BOYD, 33, of Decatur, Georgia, and ASHUANA TURNER, 33, of Riverdale, Georgia. The scheme involved the filing of fraudulent federal and state tax returns with the identifications of Navy sailors and new recruits stolen by then Petty Officer KERR from a military in-processing facility at Fort Gillem, where he was assigned. All four defendants have since pled guilty to criminal informations. On February 27, 2011, BOYD was sentenced for his conviction on one count of aggravated identity theft and one count of theft of public money to 2 years and 9 months of imprisonment followed by 3 years of supervise release. On the same date, TURNER was sentenced to 3 years and 6 months imprisonment followed by 3 years of supervised release for her conviction on one count of conspiracy. KERR pleaded guilty to one count of aggravated identity theft and one count of theft of public money and is scheduled to be sentenced on May 8, 2012, before U.S. District Court Judge Richard W. Story. This case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Brian M. Pearce.
- On March 1, 2012, MICHAEL SAHLGREN, 49, of Buford, Georgia, was sentenced by U.S. District Judge J. Owen Forrester to serve 6 months in prison and 1 year on supervised release following his conviction for failing to file a federal income tax return during the 2004 year. SAHLGREN, who previously worked as a residential contractor, was also ordered to perform community service at the Hall County Habitat for Humanity Restore and ordered to pay restitution of $52,860 to the IRS. This case was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Christopher C. Bly.
- On February 28, 2012, JOSEPH RUSSO, 40, and KATHLEEN RUSSO, 41, both of Jonesboro, Georgia, were indicted on charges of conspiracy and aiding and assisting in the preparation of false tax returns. The indictment alleges that the Russos, who are siblings and operated out of R&R Tax Services, prepared and filed individual tax returns for their customers that contained false and inflated items, including false claims for charitable contributions. In addition to preparing and filing the false returns, the indictment alleges that Kathleen Russo attempted to impede an IRS audit of one of R&R Tax Service’s clients by providing the client with fraudulent receipts for charitable contributions. This case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Leslie J. Abrams.
- On February 23, 2012, RODDRICK MORRIS, 39, of Atlanta, Georgia, pleaded guilty to filing a false claim for refund with the IRS. MORRIS filed false income tax returns seeking refunds of thousands of dollars for various individuals based on false employer earnings statements and deductions. MORRIS is scheduled to be sentenced on May 22, 2012, before U.S. District Judge Richard W. Story. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Doug W. Gilfillan.
- On February 22, 2012, three owners of Atlanta Meat Company were each sentenced by U.S. District Judge Thomas W. Thrash to the maximum term of imprisonment authorized by law after being convicted on federal tax and immigration charges. RHETT MAUGHON, 49, of Decatur, Georgia (5 years’ imprisonment and 3 years’ supervised release), RAFAEL VILLARREAL, Sr., 42, of Suwanee, Georgia (5 years’ imprisonment and 3 years supervised release), and MARCUS MAUGHON, 47, of Decatur, Georgia (3 years’ imprisonment and 3 years’ supervised release), skimmed cash receipts from their business, which they used as supplemental income for themselves and their employees, some of whom were undocumented workers. These cash wages were not reported by the defendants to the IRS. This case was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys William L. McKinnon, Jr. and Steven D. Grimberg.
- On February 16, 2012, THONY BEAUBRUN, 48, of Loganville, Georgia, was sentenced by U.S. District Judge Charles A. Pannell, Jr. to serve 6 months in prison and 6 months of home confinement, followed by 1 year of supervised release, for his felony conviction to aiding and assisting in the preparation of a false tax return. BEAUBRUN, a tax preparer, conducted a fraudulent tax filing scheme in which he prepared and filed individual tax returns which contained numerous false items, including falsely claimed education and earned income tax credits and false and inflated claims for mortgage interest, medical expenses, charitable contributions, inflated business losses, and job expenses. This case was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Bernita Malloy and Leslie J. Abrams.
Members of the public are reminded that an indictment only contains charges. The defendant is presumed innocent of the charges and it will be the government's burden to prove the defendant's guilt beyond a reasonable doubt at trial.
For further information please contact the U.S. Attorney's Public Information Office at USAGAN.PressEmails@usdoj.gov or (404) 581-6016. The Internet address for the HomePage for the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Northern District of Georgia is www.justice.gov/usao/gan.