Tax Fraud Blotter: Bad performances
Jul 29, 2021
By Jeff Stimpson July 29, 2021, 3:07 p.m. EDT
6 Min Read
Nominees galore; the eagle has crashed; eight years to FastLife;and other highlights of recent tax cases. Richmond, Virginia: Tax preparer Willette J. Holland has been sentenced to a year and a day in prison and three years of supervised release for evading her own taxes . Holland owned the firm Tax Professionals, and in August 2014 the IRS contacted her because she had not filed personal returns for 2010 through 2013. She then presented false returns for those years that substantially underreported her gross receipts and taxes due. In 2014, 2015 and 2016, Holland again did not file returns. To further conceal her earnings, in 2014 she deposited almost all her tax prep firm’s gross receipts into a bank account held in the name of a nominee. Holland caused a tax loss totaling some $177,000. Corvallis, Montana: Ronald Dean Lords, a former lawyer who also was a licensed realtor and who ran a construction company, has admitted to defrauding investors and filing false income tax returns. Lords was a lawyer who operated Eagles Landing Legal Services, as well as a licensed realtor and general contractor operating Eagles Landing Construction. The construction company purported to develop real property and build homes. Lords defrauded several victims by convincing them to invest money in his construction company, telling them he would make monthly interest payments, use the money to build homes and repay the money after the homes were sold. He also told victims he would return their money within 30 days of request. Lords used some of the money to make interest payments to prior investors and lost most of it in the futures market. When some victims demanded their principal back, Lords admitted that he’d lost more than $1 million in the futures market and did not have their money. He also failed to declare $432,608 that he received from several victims in 2015 as “other income” on his taxes, resulting in unpaid taxes of $152,734 for that year. He pleaded guilty to wire fraud, money laundering and filing false returns. He faces three years in prison, a $100,000 fine and a year of supervised release on the false tax returns charge; a maximum of 20 years in prison, a $250,000 fine and three years of supervised release on the wire fraud charge; and 10 years in prison, a fine and three years of supervised release on the money laundering charge. Sentencing is Nov. 10. Shreveport, Louisiana: Tax preparer Dequita Hopkins-Ashley, 40, has been sentenced to 18 months in prison, to be followed by a year of supervised release, for tax fraud. Hopkins-Ashley, who pleaded guilty in March, owned and operated Elite Tax Service and in February 2017 met with an undercover agent posing as a client. Hopkins-Ashley prepared and filed a 1040 for the agent and claimed a false business loss of $6,100, inflating the refund. The agent hadn’t provided this information to her and in fact no such business existed. She was also ordered to pay $129,000 in restitution. Lebanon, Oregon: Computer consultant Robert Andrew Lund has pleaded guilty after failing to pay more than $1.7 million in personal income taxes in a complex tax evasion scheme dating back to 2001. He pleaded guilty to tax evasion, failure to file personal income tax returns and stealing food stamp and Medicaid benefits. In the mid-1980s, after years as a computer engineer and programmer for Hewlett Packard, Lund moved to Oregon and started the computer consulting company Lund Performance Solutions. His clients included large businesses, school districts and health care companies nationwide. In 1993, Lund paid $30,000 to an offshore trust promoter to establish layers of trusts to hide his profits from the IRS. From 1994 to 1996, despite Performance being highly profitable, Lund reported almost no income on his personal income tax returns. Soon after, the IRS audited Lund and determined he owed more than $2.7 million in taxes, plus penalties. He used his untaxed profits to buy 90 acres of land outside Eugene, Oregon, on which he built a house that was later appraised at $950,000. Lund, a pilot, built a private landing strip on the property and also purchased the former city hall and post office in Albany, Oregon, a trailer park with multiple rental units and two rental houses. Lund ran Performance and several smaller businesses, including a health food store, a bookstore and a scuba diving company. Lund challenged his tax assessments in federal Tax Court and in the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals; both affirmed he owed the IRS unpaid taxes. In response, he stopped filing returns altogether and began creating many LLCs and trusts to conceal his income and assets. He also sought out a tax-protest attorney from Georgia named Kyle Weeks. (Weeks later surrendered his law license and was convicted for filing false returns.) Over the next decade, the IRS sent Lund dozens of letters, bills and summonses for financial records. Lund replied with his own letters claiming he was not a U.S. citizen and was not subject to taxation or IRS authority. He also continued to go to extraordinary lengths to hide his assets and income from the IRS while stealing from government assistance programs. He repeatedly transferred title to his properties to various straw entities and persons; hid rental income by signing leases with the names of at least 16 LLCs, partnerships and trusts; applied for and received food stamps and Medicaid benefits; and convinced an employee to open a bank account on behalf of one of Lund’s trusts. He faces a maximum of 27 years in prison, $950,000 in fines and three years of supervised release. Sentencing is Oct. 14. Lund will also pay more than $1.7 million in restitution to the IRS and $70,000 to the Oregon Health Authority. Bradenton, Florida: CPA Kenneth Murry Rossman has pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit wire fraud and mail fraud and aiding and assisting in the preparation and filing of a false income tax return. Rossman, who is also a licensed insurance agent, conspired with Phillip Roy Wasserman, a former lawyer and licensed insurance agent, to defraud elderly victim-investors. The two made false and fraudulent misrepresentations and concealed material information to convince elderly victims to put their money into Wasserman’s new insurance venture, “FastLife.” Some victims were persuaded to liquidate traditional investments to generate cash to invest. They were not told about surrender fees and other costs associated with the liquidations, and Rossman prepared income tax returns for them to conceal negative personal tax consequences that resulted from the liquidations. Wasserman paid Rossman a percentage of the victims’ money as compensation for his role in the conspiracy. Wasserman also used the money to make payments to earlier victims in FastLife, as well as to victims in his earlier hedge fund and real estate fund ventures. The conspiracy resulted in victims losing more than $6.3 million. Rossman faces a maximum of eight years in prison. McMinnville, Oregon: Former CPA and CFO Kent Jensen has been sentenced to 18 months in prison and three years of supervised release for evading $99,000 in personal income taxes. In 2014 and 2015, Jenson, who also previously worked as an auditor with an international accounting firm and as a financial consultant for a business in Milwaukie, Oregon, allegedly set up several nominee companies and nominee bank accounts to conceal most of his personal income from the IRS. He had his financial consulting clients pay his consulting fees to these companies, then deposited the funds into nominee bank accounts and used the proceeds for personal expenses. In 2014 and 2015, Jensen submitted false personal income tax returns that substantially underreported his personal income and taxes owed. Jensen, who pleaded guilty in April, was also ordered to pay $99,000 in restitution to the IRS.