News and Press Releases

Tax Schemer Pleads Guilty

April 24, 2002

Las Vegas, Nev. - Daniel G. Bogden, United States Attorney for the District of Nevada and Byram Tichenor of the Internal Revenue Service announced that Donald Lasater, age 63, a current resident of Dallas/Fort Worth area of Texas and a one time resident of Las Vegas, Nevada, pled guilty today before the Honorable Larry R. Hicks, on charges that he Aided and Assisted in Preparation and Presentation of False and Fraudulent Tax returns in violation of 26 U.S.C. § 7206(2). 26 U.S.C. §7206(2) carries a maximum term of imprisonment of three years, and a maximum fine of one hundred thousand dollars plus restitution. However, any sentence is dictated by the Federal Sentencing Guidelines, which take into account a number of factors, and would be imposed in the discretion of the Court.

During the plea colloquy, Mr. Lasater admitted under oath that from in or about January 1995 to June 1997, he engaged in a scheme to avoid paying the full amount of payroll taxes owed to the United States by his heating and air conditioning company, Authorized Service Center. By this scheme, the service technicians who were in actuality employees of Authorized Service Center were treated as both independent contractors and employees for purposes of payroll.

The service technicians were typically paid a commission on each job performed by the service technicians. Under the scheme, the defendant would determine the total amount of commission owed to each service technician at the end of each week. For each of his service technicians, the defendant would then assign two hundred dollars of the total commission owed to wages and allocate the balance of the commission owed as "equipment rental". The service technicians were then paid with two checks. One check was for two hundred dollars ($200) representing wages and from which the appropriate tax withholding was taken out. The other check was for the balance of the compensation owed, and was entitled "equipment rental." There was no tax withholding taken out of the "equipment rental" check.

When Authorized Service Center filed its quarterly payroll tax forms 941 with the Internal Revenue Service, these forms did not include the monies paid to the service technicians as "equipment rental". The failure to include these monies in the quarterly 941 payroll figures resulted in the United States suffering a tax loss of fifty three thousand, four hundred and seventy-six dollars and eighteen cents. ($53,476.18).

Byram Tichenor of the Internal Revenue Service addressed the purpose for and importance of these investigations and prosecutions. "Employment tax fraud is being emphasized and aggressively investigated on a national level.These cases are extremely important to us because they help protect the employees who may find they owe substantial tax liability when their returns are due at the end of the year if proper withholding is not made. Additionally, if actual social security taxes are not paid and properly credited for these employees, they may be cheated out of their true monthly social security benefit when they retire. There is always a price to pay for fraud and unfortunately, when it comes to employment tax fraud, it is ultimately the little guy who suffers. We are working hard to prevent this."

The defendant's next scheduled appearance is at 10:00 a.m. on July 29, 2002 for sentencing before U.S. District Court Judge Hicks.

The prosecution is the result of a three year investigation by agents of the Internal Revenue Service - Criminal Investigation. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Sharon Lever.

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