Arizona Tax Defier Sentenced to Nine Years in Prison for Fraud and Tax Conspiracy
Richard Kellogg Armstrong, 77, of Prescott, Ariz., was sentenced today by U.S. District Court Judge Robert E. Blackburn to 108 months in prison followed by three years of supervised release. Judge Blackburn ordered the sentence to run con secutively to the 660 day prison term and $1,021,500 of fines cumulatively imposed upon Armstrong as punitive sanctions for 10 acts of contempt of court. He also ordered Armstrong to pay restitution to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) in the amount of $1,678,834 and to forfeit two residences and a personal aircraft. The sentence was announced by the Justice Department’s Tax Division, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Colorado and the IRS Criminal Investigation Denver Field Office. Codefendant Curtis L. Morris, age 43, of Elizabeth, Colo., is scheduled to be sentenced on Nov. 6, 2012.
Armstrong was found guilty on April 30, 2012, after a three week jury trial, of one count of mail fraud, eight counts of filing false claims against the United States, three counts of engaging in monetary transactions in property derived from mail fraud, and one count of conspiracy to defraud the United States. According to the testimony at trial, Armstrong, Morris and others conspired to file false tax returns claiming large tax refunds based upon fictitious federal income tax withholdings taken from bogus IRS Forms 1099-OID for themselves and others. Armstrong personally received over $1.6 million in fraudulent tax refunds and, according to the testimony at trial, quickly moved most of this money into accounts in the names of shell entities and offshore bank accounts.
“The sentence in this case demonstrates that those who defy the tax laws by preparing or filing false and frivolous tax returns will be prosecuted and punished for their conduct,” said Kathryn Keneally, Assistant Attorney General for the Justice Department’s Tax Division. “The Tax Division remains committed to prosecuting conduct that attempts to defy our nation’s tax laws.”
“The intent of this refund fraud scheme was to swindle the government and the taxpaying public” said Richard Weber, Chief, IRS-Criminal Investigation. “Today's sentencing of Mr. Armstrong again emphasizes that the Internal Revenue Service and Department of Justice will continue their aggressive pursuit of those who would attempt to defraud America's tax system.”
Assistant Attorney General Keneally commended the efforts of IRS-Criminal Investigation special agents, who investigated the case, and Assistant U.S. Attorney Kenneth Harmon and Special Assistant U.S. Attorney Kevin F. Sweeney, who prosecuted the case. Kevin Sweeney is a trial attorney from the Tax Division, currently on detail to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.