Two Plead Guilty in Fraud Scheme
PITTSBURGH, PA – Two southwestern Pennsylvania residents pleaded guilty in federal court to charges of conspiracy and filing a false tax return, United States Attorney Scott W. Brady announced today.
Robert Richards pleaded guilty to one count of filing a false tax return, and Jennifer Morrison, 60, of Greensburg, pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to defraud the United States before United States District Judge Nora Barry Fischer.
In connection with the guilty plea, the court was advised that Richards and Morrison conspired to defraud the United States and the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) during the period January 2006 to April 2010, by impeding the IRS in the collection of income taxes due from the operation of Richards’ used car dealerships in Greensburg, Jeannette, and McKeesport. Richards secreted his income from the IRS by placing his dealerships and more than 30 business bank accounts, through which he funneled proceeds of his business, in the names of nominee owners. One such nominee was Jennifer Morrison, who handled all of the business bookkeeping and who worked in tandem with Richards to funnel more than $1 million in gross business receipts through the nominee bank accounts. Richards and Morrison extracted funds from the business accounts to pay for personal expenditures. The tax loss to the IRS was calculated at more than $90,000.
Judge Fischer scheduled sentencing for September 14, 2018, at 9:30 a.m. for Richards, and at 11 a.m. for Morrison. The law provides for a total sentence of three years in prison, a fine of $250,000, or both, for Richards; and a total sentence of five years in prison, a fine of $250,000, or both, for Morrison. Under the Federal Sentencing Guidelines, the actual sentences imposed are based upon the seriousness of the offenses and the prior criminal history, if any, of each of the defendants.
Richards and Morrison both remain on bond pending the sentencing hearings.
Assistant United States Attorney Carolyn J. Bloch is prosecuting this case on behalf of the government.
The Pennsylvania State Police and the Internal Revenue Service conducted the investigation that led to the prosecution of Richards and Morrison.