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SPARTANBURG, S.C. – A husband and wife from Greer, S.C. were sentenced on Thursday, April 11, 2013 for filing false tax returns, announced Anne M. Tompkins, U.S. Attorney for the Western District of North Carolina.
Jeannine A. Hammett, Special Agent in Charge of the Internal Revenue Service, Criminal Investigation Division (IRS-CI); David A. Thomas, Special Agent in Charge of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Columbia Division in South Carolina; and James Ward, Special Agent in Charge, Department of Homeland Security, Office of the Inspector General in Atlanta join U.S. Attorney Tompkins in making today’s announcement.
U.S. District Court Judge Mary G. Lewis sentenced Julie Greene Tucker, 52, of Greer to 33 months in prison, to be followed by three years of supervised release. Tucker’s husband, James Dean Tucker, 54, also of Greer, was sentenced to eight months of house arrest and five years of probation. The Tuckers were ordered to pay $191,049 restitution to IRS, jointly and severally. Julie Tucker was ordered to pay an additional $590,128 as restitution to her former employer.
“For approximately 15 months the Tuckers used stolen money to fund a luxurious lifestyle way above their means. Today’s sentence sends a clear message that my office will work with our law enforcement partners to hold accountable those who break the law and to ensure the only rewards crooks get are stiff penalties and prison sentences,” said U.S. Attorney Tompkins.
“The IRS fosters confidence in the American tax system through the prosecution and conviction of individuals who intentionally conceal income and evade taxes. We should not expect the honest taxpayer to foot the bill for those who hide income from the IRS,” stated Jeannine A. Hammett, Special Agent in Charge of the Charlotte Field Office.
“The Tuckers funded their lavish lifestyle of luxury cars and expensive vacations with embezzled money. The FBI and our law enforcement partners remain committed to holding those accountable who abuse their positions for their own personal profit,” said David A. Thomas, Special Agent in Charge of the Columbia Division of the FBI.
In November 2012, James and Julie Tucker pleaded guilty to a criminal bill of information charging them with two counts of filing false tax returns. In addition, Julie Tucker pleaded guilty to one count of wire fraud. According to filed court documents and yesterday’s sentencing hearing, from in or about 1996 through in or about July 2011, Julie Tucker was employed at Trendset, Inc. (“Trendset”), a freight audit business, located in Greenville, S.C. Her last position at Trendset was Director of Administration. Court records show that in that capacity, Julie Tucker had access to Trendset bank accounts and had the authority to write checks and initiate wire transfers from these accounts on behalf of Trendset. From April 1986 through July 2012, James Tucker was employed with the Department of Homeland Security and stationed in Greenville, S.C.
According to filed documents and court proceedings, beginning in or about 2010 and continuing until her resignation in July 2011, Julie Tucker embezzled money from Trendset bank accounts. Unbeknownst to Trendset, Julie Tucker used her access to the company’s bank accounts to wire money to her name and into accounts held jointly by her and her husband. Court records indicate that Julie Tucker also wired funds and wrote checks from these accounts to make direct payments on several automobile loans and a credit card in the couple’s name.
Based on filed court documents and statements made in court, Julie and James Tucker used the embezzled funds to perform major home renovations, purchase a second home, and buy three luxury vehicles for themselves and an additional vehicle for the daughter of a Trendset co-worker. Court records indicate that the couple joined a local country club where they hosted a lavish Christmas party for family and friends. The couple also used the embezzled funds to pay for several personal vacation trips. According to yesterday’s sentencing hearing, Julie Tucker also spent well over $100,000 in jewelry purchases. The couple failed to include taxable income derived from Julie Tucker’s embezzlement scheme in their joint tax 2010 and 2011 tax returns, court records show.
Court records indicate that James Tucker lied to co-workers when he was asked about the couple’s lifestyle improvements and spending. Court records indicate that James Tucker sometimes would say that the couple received the money from James Tucker’s father, after a profitable sale of Hormel stock. Other times, James Tucker would say his wife had received a big promotion at Trendset and that she was making a lot more money than he was, court records indicate.
Julie Tucker was ordered to self-report to the Federal Bureau of Prisons upon designation of a federal facility. Federal sentences are served without the possibility of parole.
The investigation was handled by the IRS, FBI, and DHS-OIG. The prosecution was handled by Assistant U.S. Attorney Don Gast, of the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Asheville.