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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Western District of Washington

Friday, June 14, 2013

‘Sovereign Citizen’ Sentenced to 8+ Years in Prison for Tax Fraud Scheme

Defendant Promoted Common Tax Fraud Scheme Claiming Millions In Refunds

A Yelm, Washington man who advised and assisted others in a common tax fraud scheme was sentenced today in U.S. District Court in Tacoma to 97 months in prison and three years of supervised release, announced U.S. Attorney Jenny A. Durkan.  RAYMOND LEO JARLIK BELL was convicted in March 2013 of five counts of filing false, fictitious and fraudulent claims, 15 counts of assisting in filing false tax returns, three counts of mail fraud, and one count of criminal contempt.  JARLIK BELL and his wife, Ute Christine Jarlik Bell, are of members of the so-called ‘Sovereign Citizen’ movement.  Members of the Sovereign Citizen movement profess a belief that both state and federal government entities are illegitimate.  U.S. District Judge Ronald B. Leighton imposed $705,276 in restitution saying, “Your scheme… is fraud at its core.  You are hurting people intentionally, regardless of your adherence to [your beliefs].”

“This defendant held himself out as a tax expert with contacts at the IRS – when both the IRS and a federal judge told him repeatedly that his conduct was criminal,” said U.S. Attorney Jenny A. Durkan.  “Mr. Jarlik Bell believed he was above the law, and aggressively promoted and spread his scheme to others looking to duck their fair share and steal tax dollars through fraudulent refunds.”

The JARLIK BELL investigation centered on the filing of false tax returns using a scheme known as OID fraud; RAYMOND LEO JARLIK BELL advised and assisted others in using the scheme.  In 2006, BELL obtained a tax refund in excess of $30,000 using the scheme. Numerous others who were advised by JARLIK BELL also filed for and received fraudulent refunds they did not deserve.  One woman received a tax refund of more than $590,000.  In 2005, JARLIK BELL was ordered by U.S. District Judge Robert J. Bryan to stop promoting fraudulent tax schemes.  Less than three years later, he was back promoting another massive tax fraud among friends, family and strangers.

“No matter what the promoter calls it, a scheme to file bogus tax returns claiming outrageous tax ‘refunds’ that don’t belong to you, is just fraud,” said Kenneth J. Hines, Special Agent in Charge of IRS Criminal Investigation in Seattle.  “All frauds have a victim, and the victim of Mr. Bell’s scheme was every hard working taxpayer in America, as well as government operations and programs, including our military, that depend on tax dollars.  Mr. Bell’s prison sentence reflects the severity of his crime and demonstrates the commitment of IRS Criminal Investigation to defending the integrity of our system.”

In asking for a lengthy prison sentence prosecutors wrote to the court that JARLIK BELL “aggressively promoted this scheme, both locally in the Western District of Washington, at seminars in California, and among tax filers in Arizona and Hawaii.  The defendant recruited other people – blinded by their own greed and shortsightedness – to break the law.  In that sense his crime is more detrimental to society and to the enforcement of the tax laws than that of a defendant who confines his criminal activity to him or her self.”

Ute Christine Jarlik Bell was convicted of four counts of filing false, fictitious and fraudulent claims.  She will be sentenced June 18, 2013.

The case was investigated by the Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigation (IRS-CI), the FBI, ATF, the Federal Protective Service and the U.S. Marshal Service.

The cases were prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Jill Otake and Matthew Diggs.

Updated March 23, 2015