Knoxville Couple Sentenced for Tax Fraud and Money Laundering
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. – Bertha Del Pilar Vargas, 48, and her husband, Martin Ayala, 45, both of Knoxville, Tenn., were sentenced on Oct. 26, 2016, by the Honorable Thomas A. Varlan, Chief U.S. District Court Judge, for their participation in tax fraud and money laundering conspiracies. Vargas was sentenced to serve 34 months in federal prison. Ayala received a prison sentence of 37 months. Both were ordered to forfeit to the United States, more than $40,000 in currency seized by federal investigators and a money judgment of $2.4 million.
In June, 2016, Vargas and Ayala each pleaded guilty to conspiracy to defraud the United States through the submission of fraudulent federal income tax returns and conspiracy to commit money laundering. Their offenses were part of a scheme that involved the use of phony identification documents for the submission of fraudulent federal income tax returns in order to obtain refundable tax credits. The scheme resulted in the theft of more than $10.8 million from the U.S. taxpayers.
Agencies involved in this investigation included the Internal Revenue Service, Homeland Security Investigations, U.S. Postal Inspection Service, and Tennessee Highway Patrol Identity Crimes Unit. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Frank M. Dale, Jr. and Jennifer Kolman represented the United States.