St. Louis Man Sentenced to Prison in Tax King Scam
Donald S. Boyce, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Illinois, announced today that Mason Richmond, 31, of St. Louis, MO, was sentenced to 18 months in federal prison for defrauding the United States Treasury. Richmond’s conviction and sentence arise from his employment at a fraudulent tax return preparation business known as Tax King, LLC.
Tax King had several facilities located in St. Louis, MO, and one located at 212 Collinsville Avenue in East St. Louis. Richmond worked as a return preparer for three years at Tax King’s facility located at 900 N. Grand in St. Louis. On April 29, 2016, Richmond pled guilty in Federal Court in East St. Louis to a charge of conspiring to submit false claims for tax refunds. As part of his guilty plea, Richmond admitted that he routinely placed false information on his customers’ tax returns, including: (1) false Business Income and Schedules Cs which caused the clients to qualify for larger Earned Income Credits ("EICs"); (2) false wages, which again caused the clients to qualify for larger EICs; and (3) false education expenses which enabled the clients to qualify for American opportunity education credits.
Tax King profited from the scheme by charging the customers fees which ranged from approximately $400 to $650. Richmond admitted that he also profited from the scheme by requesting cash "tips" from his customers in return for increasing their refunds.
In addition to the 18 month prison sentence, Richmond was ordered to pay restitution to the United States Treasury of $126,015. After he completes his prison sentence, Richmond will also be required to serve a term of 3 years of supervised release.
The owner of Tax King, Eyob Tilahun, and two employees of the East St. Louis Tax King were previously sentenced on September 9, 2016. Tilahun, 30, of St. Louis, MO, was sentenced to 38 months in federal prison. Tanesa L. Beverly, 32, of East St. Louis, IL, and Melissa L. Wiley, 35, of Granite City, IL, were both sentenced to two years of probation. Beverly and Wiley both worked as return preparers at the East St. Louis Tax King for a couple of months during 2013. In addition to Richmond, Tilahun, Beverly, and Wiley, three other defendants in the case have previously pled guilty. Those defendants are: Lakesha R. Wilson, 28, of East St. Louis, IL; Edric A. Russell, 35, of East St. Louis, IL, and Pierre J. Carter, 34, of East St. Louis, IL. Wilson, Russell, and Carter all worked as return preparers at the East St. Louis Tax King. Russell and Carter will be sentenced on January 27, 2017. Wilson’s sentencing hearing is scheduled for February 3, 2017.
The investigation is being conducted by agents from both the Fairview Heights, Illinois, and St. Louis, Missouri Offices of the Internal Revenue Service – Criminal Investigation. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Scott A. Verseman. The United States Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Missouri has also prosecuted several return preparers who worked at Tax King locations in St. Louis, MO.