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Press Release

Two convicted of tax fraud

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Northern District of West Virginia

CLARKSBURG, WEST VIRGINIA – Two West Virginia residents were convicted of tax fraud today in federal court, United States Attorney William J. Ihlenfeld, II, announced.

Connie Sue Cole, 71, of Bruceton Mills, West Virginia, ran a tax preparation service from her home. Cole repeatedly falsified tax returns by either understating the true income earned by her clients or inflating and overstating the expenses incurred by her clients to fabricate deductions. She admitted today to falsifying a specific tax return in March 2013. The client was entitled to claim business expenses in the amount of $3,682.00. Cole filed a tax return on behalf of the client fraudulently claiming nearly $36,000.00 in business expenses. Cole pled guilty today to a criminal Information charging her with one count of “Aiding and Assisting the Preparation of Fraudulent Tax Returns.” She faces up to three years in prison and a fine of up to $1,000,000.00.

Morgantown, West Virginia businessman Michael A. Vecchio, Jr., 53, of Morgantown, West Virginia, admitted today that he repeatedly misappropriated profits from his various businesses. He diverted corporate income into his personal bank accounts, used business income to pay his personal credit card debt, and used his business credit card for personal living expenses. He failed to declare any of these payments as corporate or personal income. Vecchio pled guilty today to a criminal Information charging him with one count of “Attempts to Interfere with the Administration of the Internal Revenue Laws.” He faces up to three years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000.00.

Under the Federal Sentencing Guidelines, the actual sentence imposed will be based upon the seriousness of the offenses and the prior criminal history, if any, of the defendants.

“Those that don’t comply with the federal tax laws, are in reality stealing from honest tax paying Americans who comply with their tax obligations,” said Guy Ficco, Assistant Special Agent in Charge of the Internal Revenue Service-Criminal Investigation, Washington, D.C. Field Office.  “We should not forget that we are the ultimate victims of tax fraud.”

Assistant U.S. Attorney Andrew Cogar is prosecuting Cole and Assistant U.S. Attorney Robert McWilliams is prosecuting Vecchio on behalf of the government. The Internal Revenue Service-Criminal Investigation is leading the investigations.

U.S. Magistrate Judge John S. Kaull presided.

Updated February 4, 2016