Tuesday, March 01, 2016
Joplin woman, 12 others sentenced for tax fraud scheme
All 13 co-defendants have been sentenced in federal court for their roles in a fraudulent tax return preparation scheme that claimed nearly $340,000 in fraudulent income tax refunds.
Cherie Christine Dupuis, 43, of Springfield, was sentenced by U.S. District Judge Brian C. Wimes on Monday, Feb. 29, 2016, to two years and nine months in federal prison without parole. The court also ordered Dupuis to pay $272,819 in restitution.
Dupuis was among 13 defendants who were sentenced yesterday and today. Dupuis pleaded guilty to leading the fraudulent tax return preparation conspiracy and her co-defendants pleaded guilty to making false and fraudulent income tax returns.
Dupuis and her 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.
Conspirators recruited individuals to assist in filing fraudulent returns, and obtained their identifying information, including their names and Social Security numbers. They used that information to file federal income tax returns that included fictitious employment information and reported wages that had not been earned and employment taxes that had not been withheld. Conspirators shared employer information for the purpose of creating fictitious W-2 forms. They also shared dependent information to enable them to falsely claim dependents on their returns.
Dupuis utilized tax preparation software called Taxact.com to prepare these false federal income tax returns on her own laptop computer, public library computers and on a co-conspirator’s laptop computer. She used a co-conspirator’s mailing address on some false federal income tax returns.
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.
Seven additional defendants sentenced on Monday, Feb. 29, 2016, included:
Johnny L. Cooper, 28, of Springfield, to seven months in prison and $10,100 in restitution;
Shawna Marie Hughey, 37, of Joplin, Mo., formerly of Springfield, to six months in prison and $22,626 in restitution;
Delbert L. Allen, 37, of Pleasant Hope, Mo., formerly of Springfield, to five months in prison and $4,541 in restitution;
Jeannette R. Dunn, 48, of Huntsville, Ark., formerly of Springfield, to two months in prison and $10,430 in restitution;
Lisa Lorre DeHaven, 35, of Springfield, to time served and $19,791 in restitution;
Asia Michelle Couchman, 26, of Oak Grove, Mo., to five years of probation and $9,456 in restitution; and
Heather Nicole Drennen, 32, of Cameron, Mo., formerly of Springfield, to five years of probation and $5,203 in restitution.
Five additional defendants sentenced today included:
Travis L. Ashmead, 30, of Springfield, to 10 months in prison and $9,906 in restitution;
Amanda Leigh Boyd, 34, of Springfield, to six months in prison and $29,409 in restitution;
William J. Coonce, 29, of Otterville, Mo.; to four months in prison and $15,750 in restitution;
Claudia Dorsey, 34, of Springfield, to five years of probation and $27,791 in restitution; and
Jeannie Marie Rhodes, 34, of Springfield, to five years of probation and $6,881 in restitution.
This case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Steven M. Mohlhenrich. It was investigated by IRS-Criminal Investigation.