Ozark Man Pleads Guilty to Conspiracy to Avoid Paying $585,000 in Federal Taxes
SPRINGFIELD, Mo. – Tammy Dickinson, United States Attorney for the Western District of Missouri, announced that an Ozark, Mo., man pleaded guilty in federal court today to his role in a conspiracy to avoid paying $585,000 he owed in federal taxes.
Wesley Vernon Delport, 69, of Ozark, Mo., pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge M. Douglas Harpool to participating in a conspiracy to defraud the United States by impeding the lawful government functions of the Internal Revenue Service in the ascertainment, computation, assessment, and collection of federal taxes.
Delport was the owner of Abundant Health & Wellness, a business described as a holistic health clinic, located in Springfield. Between Jan. 1, 2004, and Dec. 31, 2013, Delport received a total of approximately $4.7 million in gross receipts for Abundant Health & Wellness, which he did not report to the IRS as required by law and upon which he did not pay taxes.
Delport conspired with co-defendant Alton Louis Vaughn, Sr., 58, of Greene County, in an attempt to avoid paying taxes on approximately $4.7 million in business receipts. Vaughn, who is self-employed, derived a portion of his income from assisting in the preparation of federal income tax returns, advising taxpayers regarding their dealings with the IRS, and representing others in their dealings with the IRS. Vaughn has pleaded guilty to participating with Delport in the conspiracy.
In order to avoid paying taxes on his income, Delport purported to create an entity called The Shammah Foundation in the state of Washington on May 7, 2001. Delport described the purpose of The Shammah Foundation as “to do whatever will promote the Kingdom Of God, All Righteousness and the principles of Liberty and Justice.” Delport transferred a total of approximately $382,000 over a four-year period from Abundant Health & Wellness accounts to a bank account he controlled, held in the name The Shammah Foundation. Delport used The Shammah Foundation bank account to pay his personal expenses, without reporting those funds used for his personal expenses to the IRS as income, or paying any taxes.
Delport admitted that, on several occasions, he submitted documents to the IRS consisting of lengthy and frivolous arguments in order to impede and delay an IRS examination of his tax liability. Delport also admitted that he attempted to place his funds and assets beyond the reach of IRS collection efforts.
To impede a criminal investigation of Delport, Vaughn and Delport falsely reported to the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration that an IRS Revenue Officer and an IRS criminal investigator had coerced, intimidated and threatened Delport.
Delport and Vaughn also attempted to impede a federal grand jury in its investigation of Delport by refusing to comply with federal grand jury subpoenas for tax and business records, by sending correspondence to the U.S. Attorney’s Office falsely stating that an IRS Revenue Officer had personally seized and collected all of Delport’s original income documents for the years 2003 through 2009, and by Vaughn falsely testifying before the grand jury.
Delport and Vaughn admitted that they also attempted to impede a federal grand jury in its investigation by counseling an employee of Abundant Health & Wellness to refuse to testify before the grand jury, and by providing her with a written statement (which contained an inaccurate statement of the law) to read to the grand jury in lieu of complying with her legal obligation to testify.
Under the terms of today’s plea agreement, Delport must pay the government approximately $585,710 in restitution, which is the amount of taxes he attempted to avoid.
Under federal statutes, Delport and Vaugh are each subject to a sentence of up to five years in federal prison without parole, plus a fine up to $250,000. Sentencing hearings will be scheduled after the completion of presentence investigations by the United States Probation Office.
This case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Steven M. Mohlhenrich. It was investigated by IRS-Criminal Investigation and the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration.