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U.S. Department of Justice

R. Alexander Acosta
United States Attorney for the
Southern District of Florida

 
99 N.E. 4th Street
Miami, FL 33132
(305) 961-9001

PRESS RELEASE


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

For Information Contact Public Affairs
July 29, 2005 Yovanny Lopez, Public Affairs Specialist, (305) 961-9316
 
 

FORMER OPA-LOCKA MAYOR & FAMILY MEMBERS SENTENCED IN TAX CASE


R. Alexander Acosta, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Florida, and Brian J. Wimpling, Special Agent in Charge, Internal Revenue Service, Criminal Investigation, announced that defendants John Taylor, Myra Taylor, and Elvira Smith were sentenced today by United States District Court Judge Donald L. Graham in Miami, Florida. The Taylors and Elvira Smith had pleaded guilty to various federal income tax charges on April 29, 2005.

John Taylor, the co-owner and operator of the Vankara Schools in Opa-Locka, Florida, who pled guilty to three counts of filing false personal income tax returns, in violation of Title 26, United States Code, Section 7206(1), was sentenced to a three (3) year term of probation, including a special condition of 150 days of home detention, and a $300 special assessment. His wife, Myra Taylor, the former Mayor of Opa-Locka, Florida, and the co-owner and operator of the Vankara Schools, who pled guilty to one count of failing to file a personal income tax return, in violation of Title 26, United States Code, Section 7203, was sentenced to a one (1) year term of probation, with a special condition of 60 days of home detention. In addition, Myra Taylor had previously given up her position as Mayor of Opa-Locka after her guilty plea. At the sentencing, the Taylors also made an agreed-upon payment of $50,000 in partial satisfaction of their outstanding tax obligations to the Internal Revenue Service. Elvira Smith, the sister of Myra Taylor, who was a teacher and administrator at the Vankara Schools, and who also plead guilty to one count of failing to file a personal income tax return, was sentenced to a one (1) year term of probation, with a special condition of 30 days of home detention. Both Ms. Taylor and Ms. Smith were also ordered to pay $25 special assessments. In addition, as a condition of their probation, all three (3) defendants were ordered to cooperate fully with the IRS to file all required tax returns, and to pay all taxes, interest, and penalties that are due and owing.

According to the facts brought out at the guilty pleas, John and Myra Taylor owned, and with the assistance of Elvira Smith, operated, a group of schools in Opa-Locka, Florida, including Vankara Technical Institute and Vankara Educational Center, Inc., along with a day care center known as Vankara: A Learning Exchange (“Vankara” or “the Vankara Schools”). During 1996, 1997, and 1998, John Taylor received regular salary payments from the Vankara Schools which were reported on W-2 Forms, and which he included as income on the personal federal income tax returns that he filed with the IRS. However, during those same years, John Taylor was receiving cash payments from Vankara which he did not report to the IRS. In addition, John Taylor was using Vankara money to pay a variety of personal expenses including mortgage payments. These payments were made directly with checks or withdrawals from Vankara bank accounts, and this additional income also was not reported to the IRS.

As was also established at the guilty pleas, based on their earnings and income during 1999, Myra Taylor and Elvira Smith were each required to file federal income tax returns with the IRS. Both Ms. Taylor and Ms. Smith were aware of this requirement, but neither of them did in fact file personal income tax returns for that year.

Mr. Acosta commended the investigative efforts of the Internal Revenue Service. The case was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Edward N. Stamm and Harry Schimkat.

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 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 www.flsd.uscourts.gov or on http://pacer.flsd.uscourts.gov.

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