Two Tax Shelter Promoters Found Guilty in Billion-Dollar Syndicated Conservation Easement Tax Scheme
WASHINGTON - A federal a grand jury sitting in Fort Worth, Texas returned an indictment yesterday charging a husband and wife and a Texas attorney with conspiring to defraud the United States and separately charging the husband and wife with tax evasion, announced Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Richard E. Zuckerman of the Justice Department’s Tax Division and U.S. Attorney Erin Nealy Cox for the Northern District of Texas.
According to the indictment, Thomas and Michelle Selgas, a married couple, conspired with John O. Green, an attorney licensed to practice in the State of Texas, to defraud the United States by obstructing the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) from assessing and collecting the Selgases’ federal income taxes. The indictment charges that in furtherance of the conspiracy the Selgases transferred personal funds to Green’s IOLTA and that Green would pay personal expenses of the Selgases from his IOLTA. An IOLTA is bank account used by a lawyer to hold money in trust for clients. The Selgases allegedly deposited the proceeds from the sale of gold coins and other income into Green’s IOLTAs, rather than accounts in their own name, and then caused their personal expenditures to be paid from Green’s IOLTAs, in order to evade paying their federal income taxes. The indictment further alleges that all three defendants were involved in the filing of a false partnership tax return related to a partnership co-founded by Thomas Selgas.
If convicted, Thomas and Michelle Selgas face a statutory maximum sentence of five years in prison on the tax evasion charges and five years on the conspiracy. John Green faces a maximum sentence of five years on the conspiracy. The defendants also face a period of supervised release, restitution and monetary penalties. An indictment is an accusation. A defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.
Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Zuckerman and U.S. Attorney Cox and thanked agents of the IRS Criminal Investigation, who conducted the investigation, and Tax Division Trial Attorneys Robert A. Kemins and Mara Strier, who are prosecuting the case.
Additional information about the Tax Division’s enforcement efforts can be found on the division’s website.