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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Middle District of Florida

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Friday, January 23, 2015

Federal Jury Finds Lee County Man Guilty of False Tax Claims and Obstructing the Functions of the IRS

Fort Myers, Florida – United States Attorney A. Lee Bentley, III announces that a federal jury has found Ronald F. Croteau guilty of ten counts of filing false tax claims and one count of obstructing or impeding the administration of the Internal Revenue laws. He faces a maximum penalty of five years in federal prison for each false claims count, and up to three years’ imprisonment for the obstruction offense. Croteau is being detained pending his sentencing hearing, which has been scheduled for April 20, 2015.

According to testimony and evidence presented at trial, Croteau belonged to a sovereign citizen, anti-government group; claimed to be a member of the Little Shell Pembina Band of North Dakota; and deemed himself to be an ambassador of the Kingdom of Heaven. Between September 2008 and May 2010, Croteau filed ten false and fraudulent income tax returns claiming refunds ranging from $46,701 to $957,670. These tax returns were false and fraudulent in that they claimed federal tax withholdings from fraudulent 1099-OID forms purportedly issued to Croteau by financial institutions. However, witnesses from the various financial institutions testified that the institutions did not create these forms and, in fact, had not withheld any federal income taxes for Croteau.

After being informed by the IRS that his income tax returns were frivolous, Croteau continued to file fraudulent income tax returns. In addition, he obstructed the administration of the Internal Revenue laws by filing false liens against IRS employees, submitting fraudulent instruments to the IRS in an attempt to discharge his tax liabilities, and recording false documents with the Lee County Clerk of Court.

This case was investigated by the Internal Revenue Service - Criminal Investigation and the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration. It is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Jeffrey F. Michelland.

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Updated February 5, 2015