COUPLES GUILTY OF TAX AND MORTGAGE FRAUD OFFENSES
Three metro-east residents recently pled guilty in United States District Court in East St. Louis, for participating in a conspiracy to defraud the United States and evade the payment of federal income taxes, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of Illinois, Stephen R. Wigginton, announced today. Robert Todd McKinney, 42, and his wife Belinda McKinney, 43, pled guilty on August 11, 2011. John Quinn McKinney, 39, pled guilty on August 9, 2011; while his wife, Chamethele McKinney, 36, pled guilty on August 3, 2011.
Robert (Todd) McKinney and John McKinney were both convicted of conspiracy to commit tax evasion, tax evasion, and making false statements to federal officials. Belinda McKinney was convicted of conspiracy to commit tax evasion and loan application fraud. Chamethele McKinney was previously convicted of conspiracy to commit tax evasion, loan application fraud, and federal food stamp fraud.
The charges alleged that the McKinney brothers owned and operated McKinney Hauling, a construction business located in East St. Louis, Illinois. In 2003, the IRS began pursuing the brothers for unpaid taxes. The McKinney brothers evaded the payment of their tax obligations for the tax years 1999-2000, and 2002-2006, by diverting business income from McKinney Hauling into nominee bank accounts, which were used to pay personal and household expenses. Robert and John McKinney also admitted lying to federal officials about their business income and their home addresses. Belinda and Chamethele McKinney each pled guilty to falsifying mortgage loan documents while purchasing real estate - solely in their own names - so that business income earned by the husbands could be diverted into assets owned exclusively by their wives, thereby avoiding a $952,706 IRS tax lien. The home owned by John and Chamethele McKinney was featured in a Belleville News-Democrat feature dated October 28, 2007, entitled “The McKinneys of Autumn Oaks: Living in a Dream Home.”
The crimes of conspiracy to commit tax evasion and tax evasion are punishable by up to 5 years’ imprisonment, a $250,000 fine, and not more than 3 years’ supervised release upon release from prison. The crime of loan application fraud is punishable by up to 30 years’ imprisonment, a $1,000,000 fine, and not more than 5 years’ supervised release upon release from prison. However, the United States Sentencing Guidelines must be applied to the case and considered by the Court during sentencing. Sentencing for Chamethele McKinney has been scheduled for November 18, 2011. Sentencing for the other three has been scheduled for December 2, 2011.
The investigation was conducted by agents from the Internal Revenue Service, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the US Postal Inspection Service, and the Illinois Department of Healthcare and Human Services. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Liam Coonan and Steven D. Weinhoeft.