Skip to main content
Press Release

Colorado Man Found Guilty of Conspiracy to Defraud the United States and Attempts to Interfere with Administration of Internal Revenue Laws

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, District of South Dakota

United States Attorney Alison J. Ramsdell announced that Randy L. Garriss, age 68, of Lamar, Colorado, was found guilty of Conspiracy to Defraud the United States and Attempts to Interfere with Administration of Internal Revenue Laws as a result of a federal jury trial in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. 

The charges carry a maximum penalty of five years in federal prison and/or a $250,000 fine, three years of supervised release, and up to a $200 special assessment to the Federal Crime Victims Fund. 

Garriss was indicted by a federal grand jury on July 6, 2017. 

The convictions stemmed from incidents beginning in April of 2004 when Theodore Nelson and his son, Steven Nelson, created over 25 sham trusts to hide their income and assets from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), thus evading the assessment and payment of federal income taxes.  The trusts were designed to make it difficult for the IRS to determine the Nelsons’ federal income tax liability.  The Nelsons appointed John Sheridan and Loren Brown as trustees and successor trustees for the trusts until Sheridan’s death in 2011.  In this manner, the Nelsons were able to put many layers between themselves and their assets and income.  In 2011, Garriss joined the conspiracy as a trustee for the Nelsons’ trusts.  Garriss’ actions as trustee helped the Nelsons hide their income and assets from the IRS.  Among other acts, Garriss also corruptly endeavored to obstruct and impede the due administration of the internal revenue laws by mailing anti-tax documents to the IRS on behalf of the Nelsons.  Garriss signed on his own behalf and that of Brown as trustees for Steve Nelson and the Nelsons’ trusts. 

“One of IRS Criminal Investigation’s highest priorities is to combat abusive tax avoidance schemes and the individuals who promote them,” said Special Agent in Charge Tyler Hatcher, IRS Criminal Investigation.  "The guilty verdict of Randy Garriss for his agreement to conspire against and impede the IRS with Ted Nelson, Steve Nelson, and Loren Brown shows how IRS Criminal Investigation will work with the U.S. Attorney’s Office to bring tax cheats to justice."

This case was investigated by IRS Criminal Investigations.  Assistant U.S. Attorney Ann M. Hoffman prosecuted the case.

 A presentence investigation was ordered and a sentencing date was set for September 12, 2022.  The defendant was released on bond until sentencing.

Updated June 24, 2022