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Justice News

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

Friday, May 24, 2019

Tampa Pastor And Daughter Sentenced For Roles In Tax Fraud Conspiracy

Tampa, Florida – U.S. District Judge Steven D. Merryday today sentenced Luckner Stimphil (55, Brandon) to four years and nine months in federal prison for conspiracy to defraud the United States. Last week, Stimphil’s daughter, Elwolfine Dufort (31, Riverview), was sentenced to two years in federal prison for her role in the conspiracy. The court also ordered Stimphil and Dufort to pay $11 million in restitution, joint and several, to the United States and imposed a $10,000 fine against Stimphil. Stimphil and Dufort had pleaded guilty in February 2019.

Stimphil and Dufort have agreed to be permanently enjoined from preparing or assisting in the preparation or filing of federal tax returns or other related documents for any other person or entity; from maintaining any association with a tax return preparation business; and from instructing, teaching, or otherwise training any person in the preparation of federal tax returns. Stimphil further consented to pay all taxes, interest, and penalties he owed to the IRS relating to his personal tax returns for years 2012 and 2013.  

According to court documents, Stimphil, the then-pastor at First Calvary Family Life Ministry in Tampa, created and operated Top Popular Tax, a tax return preparer business with offices in Tampa, Winter Haven, and other locations. The business operated from around 2011 through at least mid-2015. Stimphil, Dufort, and others working under Stimphil’s supervision, routinely assisted in and advised in the preparation and presentation to the IRS of false and fraudulent Top Popular Tax clients’ IRS Forms 1040. They included materially false and fraudulent information on the client-taxpayers’ Schedule C Forms (business income or loss) and Forms 8863 (associated with a claim for the American opportunity credit). Some of the forms  submitted to the IRS by Top Popular Tax also included a false and fraudulent claim for a credit for federal tax on fuels.         

“Together, Luckner Stimphil and his daughter, Elwolfine Dufort, were responsible for preparing false tax returns that caused more than $11 million dollars in losses to the IRS, essentially stealing the tax dollars paid by honest Americans,” stated Special Agent in Charge Mary Hammond of IRS Criminal Investigation. “As unconscionable as that sounds, the damage did not stop there. Their actions upended the lives of their clients who now must sort out the mess caused by the false returns Stimphil and Dufort filed in their names. We plead with all taxpayers to do their due diligence in selecting a trustworthy and accredited return preparer.”

This case was investigated by IRS-Criminal Investigation. It was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Jay G. Trezevant and Craig R. Gestring.

Financial Fraud
Updated May 24, 2019