Harrisburg Businessman Arrested And Charged With Federal Tax Fraud
The United States Attorney’s Office for the Middle District of Pennsylvania announced today that Paul Biko, age 61 and Maura Mia Whetsel, age 31, both of Harrisburg, Pennsylvania were arrested today on federal tax fraud charges involving failure to pay to the IRS or account for approximately $200,000 withheld from wages of employees.
According to United States Attorney Peter Smith, beginning in or about April 2006 through in or about January 2010, Biko and Whetsel, Biko’s daughter, allegedly conspired to impede and obstruct the IRS in the assessment, computation and collection of federal employment taxes. The alleged objectives of the tax conspiracy were to not fully pay over to the IRS the employment taxes Biko withheld from employees and then convert these funds for other business and personal uses. Biko was the Chief Officer of Clearview of Harrisburg, Clearview Landscaping and Clearview Builders. Whetsel was the firms’ Director of Finance and bookkeeper.
The Superceding Indictment also charges Biko and Whetsel with 8 counts of failing to truthfully account for and pay over to the IRS the employment taxes Biko withheld from his employees.
Biko and Whetsel were charged earlier this month in initial and superceding indictments that were sealed until the defendants were taken into custody today. Their initial appearance was held today before Magistrate Judge Susan E. Schwab. The case has been assigned to Chief District Judge Christopher C. Conner. Both defendants were released under pretrial supervision.
The investigation was conducted by the Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigations. Prosecution is assigned to Assistant United States Attorney Joseph J. Terz.
Indictments and Criminal Informations are only allegations. All persons charged are presumed to be innocent unless and until found guilty in court.
A sentence following a finding of guilty is imposed by the Judge after consideration of the applicable federal sentencing statutes and the Federal Sentencing Guidelines.
In this case, the maximum penalty under the federal statute is 5 years imprisonment, a term of supervised release following imprisonment, and a $250,000 fine for Count 1 and 5 years imprisonment, a term of supervised release following imprisonment, and a $10,000 fine for each count of Count 2 through 8. Under the Federal Sentencing Guidelines, the Judge is also required to consider and weigh a number of factors, including the nature, circumstances and seriousness of the offense; the history and characteristics of the defendant; and the need to punish the defendant, protect the public and provide for the defendant’s educational, vocational and medical needs. For these reasons, the statutory maximum penalty for the offense is not an accurate indicator of the potential sentence for a specific defendant.