Wednesday, October 07, 2015

Thirteenth defendant pleads guilty in tax fraud scheme

(From the U. S. Attorney for the Western District of Missouri)

A Springfield, Mo., man pleaded guilty in federal court today to his role in a fraudulent tax return preparation scheme that claimed nearly $340,000 in fraudulent income tax refunds.

Travis L. Ashmead, 30, of Springfield, pleaded guilty before U.S. Magistrate Judge David P. Rush to making a false and fraudulent income tax return.

Co-defendant Cherie Christine Dupuis, 43, of Springfield, pleaded guilty on July 21, 2015, to leading the fraudulent tax return preparation conspiracy. Dupuis admitted that she and co-conspirators defrauded the government by filing false claims for income tax refunds from February 2009 to March 2012. In the false and fraudulent federal income tax returns they prepared and filed, conspirators claimed refunds from the IRS totaling approximately $340,630, of which approximately $336,839 was false. Over the course of the scheme, the total actual tax loss to the IRS was $284,169.

Dupuis admitted that she filed fraudulent federal income tax returns in her own name and for at least 19 other individuals. Dupuis would usually split the fraudulent refunds with her co-conspirators. The total amount of the false claims Dupuis personally prepared and/or filed was approximately $298,708, with approximately $256,281 being paid on these false claims and a loss to the government of approximately $213,711.

For the 2009 and 2010 tax years, Ashmead knowingly aided and abetted Dupuis, and was aided and abetted by Dupuis, in the filing of false federal income tax returns with the IRS, claiming tax refunds to which Ashmead knew he was not entitled. Ashmead provided his personal information to Dupuis, which Dupuis then used to file false income tax returns.

Ashmead admitted that he filed false federal income tax returns for the 2009 and 2010 tax years that falsely listed wages that had not been earned and federal income tax withholdings that had not been withheld. Ashmead fraudulently claimed a refund of $10,343 for the 2009 tax year, but the IRS stopped the refund before it was issued, resulting in no loss to the U.S. Treasury. Ashmead received a fraudulent refund of $10,234 for the 2010 tax year, resulting in a loss to the U.S. Treasury.

Ashmead is the final defendant to plead guilty among 13 co-defendants. In addition to Dupuis, co-defendants Lisa Lorre DeHaven, 34, Claudia Dorsey, 33, Amanda Leigh Boyd, 33, Johnny L. Cooper, 28, and Jeannie Marie Rhodes, 34, all of Springfield; Shawna Marie Hughey, 37, of Joplin, Mo., formerly of Springfield; Heather Nicole Drennen, 32, of Cameron, Mo., formerly of Springfield; William J. Coonce, 29, of Otterville, Mo.; Jeannette R. Dunn, 48, of Huntsville, Ark., formerly of Springfield; Asia Michelle Couchman, 26, of Oak Grove, Mo.; and Delbert L. Allen, 37, of Pleasant Hope, Mo., formerly of Springfield; have also pleaded guilty.

Under federal statutes, Ashmead is subject to a sentence of up to five years in federal prison without parole, plus a fine up to $250,000 and an order of restitution. A sentencing hearing will be scheduled after the completion of a presentence investigation 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.

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