News and Press Releases

DFW Metroplex Businessmen Sentenced to Federal Prison for Failing to File a Federal Income Tax Return

October 25, 2012

FORT WORTH, Texas — Richard Tilford was sentenced yesterday by U.S. Magistrate Judge Jeffrey L. Cureton to one year in federal prison and ordered to pay $453,547 in restitution to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), following his guilty plea in July 2012 to one count of failing to file a federal income tax return, announced U.S. Attorney Sarah R. Saldaña, of the Northern District of Texas. Tilford is a resident of Fort Worth, Texas, according to an order setting his conditions of release. He must surrender on December 3, 2012 to begin serving his sentence.

In a separate case, Bartlett M. Smith, also known as David L. Burns, was sentenced last week by U.S. District Judge Terry R. Means to one year in federal prison following his guilty plea in April 2012 to the same offense. According to the judgment filed in the case, his restitution amount will be determined by the IRS. According to the indictment filed in his case, Smith, who is in custody, is a resident of Richardson, Texas.

According to the factual resume filed in his case, Tilford was a self-employed insurance agent, and between 1998 and 2006, he earned more than $1.1 million in sales commissions. Tilford had not filed tax returns for tax years 1998 - 2003, and in 2004 he hired Phillip Ballard for the purpose of eliminating his federal income taxes. In 2004, Ballard, acting on behalf of Tilford, filed five frivolous tax returns for 1998 - 2002, and each return indicated that Tilford had zero income and owed no taxes, despite significant income. Each of the tax returns, according to the factual resume, was accompanied by a letter acknowledging that Tilford earned money during the relevant year, but denying that the earnings were income in the “constitutional sense.”

Smith, according to the indictment filed in the case, operated a drywall construction business. According to the factual resume filed, he followed the advice of Phillip Ballard in attempting to eliminate his federal income taxes. Smith, or Ballard acting on behalf of Smith, used several different methods in an attempt to avoid income taxes, including using a false employer identification number, establishing a fake church and establishing a shell trust and shell corporations. In addition, on behalf of Smith and with Smith’s knowledge, Ballard submitted “zero returns” to the IRS for tax years 1999 - 2004. A “zero return” according to the factual resume, refers to a federal income tax return that contained zeros on all income, expenses and tax entries. In addition, according to the factual resume, for calendar year 2005, Smith willfully failed to file a personal income tax return, despite his drywall business having gross receipts of $1,737,458, and a profit, after expenses, of at least $56,000.

Phillip Ballard is currently charged in two indictments in the Northern District of Texas. One indictment alleges that Ballard presented himself as an attorney providing tax advice and services for hire in the Dallas-Fort Worth area. A trial date of November 26, 2012, has been set in that case. The other indictment, returned yesterday by a federal grand jury in Fort Worth, charges Ballard with soliciting the murder for hire of a federal judge. No trial date has been set in that case. An indictment is an accusation by a federal grand jury, and a defendant is entitled to the presumption of innocence unless proven guilty.

IRS Criminal Investigation was in charge of the investigation. Assistant U.S. Attorney Matthew J. Gulde was in charge of the prosecution.





















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