Former Attorney Pleads Guilty to Tax Evasion
Prepared Tax Returns for Clients Yet Omitted Over $1.5 Million in Income on His Own Tax Returns
A former Indiana attorney, who also prepared tax returns for Indianapolis-area clients, pleaded guilty yesterday to tax evasion, announced Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Richard E. Zuckerman and Josh J. Minkler, U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Indiana.
Scott C. Cole, 54, of Brownsburg, Indiana, pleaded guilty to one count of tax evasion for his multi-year effort to evade the payment of taxes and penalties on income he failed to report on his 2002 tax return.
According to the Superseding Indictment and court filings, Cole was an attorney and preparer of tax returns. As the result of Internal Revenue Service (IRS) audits of Cole’s 2001 and 2002 tax returns, the Tax Court and the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit determined that Cole owed over $1,000,000 in taxes and penalties, stemming from Cole’s fraudulent omission of over $1.5 million of income from his individual tax returns for those years. From 2011 through 2017, when the IRS sought to collect those taxes, Cole took various steps to evade payment of his tax debt. His efforts included opening bank accounts in the names of nominees, such as family members, directing payment for legal and tax preparation services performed by him be made payable to nominee companies he controlled, paying personal bills from bank accounts maintained in the names of nominees, and dealing extensively in cash and money orders. Cole also prepared tax returns for clients that omitted his name as the paid preparer of those tax returns, a violation of the Internal Revenue Code and related regulations. Because of Cole’s acts of evasion, the IRS collected less than $3,000 of the total tax debt Cole owed for the 2001 and 2002 tax years.
Cole resigned from the Indiana bar following the filing of a complaint by the Supreme Court of Indiana Disciplinary Commission in 2014, which charged Cole with the filing of fraudulent tax returns with the IRS and the State of Indiana for the 2001 and 2002 tax years.
U.S. District Judge Jane Magnus-Stinson, who presided over Cole’s guilty plea yesterday, is expected to schedule Cole’s sentencing for late summer 2019.
Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Zuckerman and U.S. Attorney Minkler commended special agents of IRS-Criminal Investigation, who investigated the case, the IRS Revenue Agents, who conducted the underlying audits, and the prosecutors on the case, Assistant United States Attorney James M. Warden from the Southern District of Indiana, and Assistant Chief Stanley J. Okula, Jr. of the Tax Division.
Additional information about the Tax Division and its enforcement efforts may be found on the division’s website at www.justice.gov/tax.