Skip to main content
Press Release

Birmingham-Area Businessman Sentenced to Four Years for Trying to Pay His $3.6 Million Tax Debt with Fictitious Instrument

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Middle District of Alabama

       Montgomery, Alabama Yesterday, Richard Lee Graham, 55, of Gardendale, Alabama, was sentenced to serve 48 months in federal prison for passing a fictitious instrument and obstructing the administration of the Internal Revenue laws, announced United States Attorney Louis V. Franklin, Sr., Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Richard E. Zuckerman, of the Justice Department’s Tax Division, and Special Agent in Charge Thomas J. Holloman, with IRS-Criminal Investigation. In addition to four years in prison, Graham was sentenced to five years of supervised release and a $10,000 fine.   

       Graham was found guilty of the charges on September 11, 2018 by a federal jury.  Evidence presented at his trial established that in 2014 he owed approximately $3.6 million in taxes, penalties, and interest for tax years 2006 to 2009. To collect that tax debt, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) began seizing Graham’s properties. On July 11, 2014, Graham went to the Montgomery IRS Office with a fictitious “International Bill of Exchange” in the amount of $3.6 million, along with false supporting documents, in an attempt to pay his taxes. A short time later, Graham showed up at the Birmingham IRS Office with another fake instrument of the same type and amount and attempted to use it to settle his tax debt.  He also had false documents mailed to an IRS employee in an attempt to prove the legitimacy of the phony check-like instrument. Graham had previously been convicted of willfully failing to file a tax return.

       “Rather than pay his taxes like most Americans, Mr. Graham chose to try and defraud the IRS, as well as his fellow citizens, by tendering a fictitious, worthless instrument to satisfy his tax liability,” stated U.S. Attorney Franklin.  “This sentence should show those who choose to defraud and/or attempt to defraud the IRS that this office stands ready, willing and able to prosecute you to the fullest extent the law allows.”

       “Graham thought he could be creative and try and cheat the tax system, and now he will spend time in prison,” said Thomas J. Holloman, Special Agent in Charge, IRS-Criminal Investigation. “This sentencing should deter those taxpayers thinking about engaging in tax defier conduct. Those taxpayers should think twice about submitting fictitious information to the IRS because you will face the criminal consequences.”

       U.S. Attorney Franklin commended agents of Internal Revenue Service-Criminal Investigation who investigated this case, and the Alabama Department of Revenue who provided assistance.  Trial Attorney Michael C. Boteler of the Tax Division and Assistant U.S. Attorney Megan A. Kirkpatrick of the Middle District of Alabama prosecuted the case.

Updated December 7, 2018