The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) has announced that two men were sentenced to prison last week for their involvement in a complex tax fraud scheme devised to avoid paying federal income taxes.
Lindsey Kent Springer, 44, a Kellyville, OK-based businessman, and Oscar Amos Stilley, 46, an attorney from Fort Smith, AR, were each sentenced by U.S. District Judge Stephen P. Friot to 180 months in federal prison.
Both men were found guilty in a jury trial last November of all counts with which they were charged in a grand jury indictment returned in March 2009. The counts were conspiracy to defraud the United States and tax evasion, and Springer was additionally charged with failure to file tax returns. Neither Springer nor Stilley have filed an income tax return since the late-1980s.
Springer used the name Bondage Breakers Ministry to solicit and receive money, according to the DOJ. His stated purpose for Bondage Breakers Ministry was "to get rid of the Internal Revenue Service." Stilley, an attorney and tax advisor, assisted Springer's tax evasion scheme through a variety of means.
Stilley maintained an interest bearing account, called an Arkansas IOLTA Foundation Trust account, which lawyers use to deposit and hold client funds. The pair used the IOLTA account and various other devices, such as cashier's checks, check cashing services, money orders, cash, and other means, to conceal Springer's actual income and avoid creating the usual records of financial institutions.
Springer told IRS employees that all funds he receives are gifts and donations to his ministry, and that he does not have any income. He also stated he does not provide any services for payment. There were numerous transactions involving hundreds of thousands of dollars between Springer and Stilley that flowed through the IOLTA account, such as $166,000 paid out in August 2005 to purchase a motor home titled in the name of Springer and his wife, and a September 2005 payment of $25,813 to purchase a Lexus automobile titled in Springer's name, according to the DOJ.
"This conviction serves as yet another reminder that individuals who break our nation's tax laws face serious consequences," said John A. DiCicco, assistant attorney general for the tax division. "Citizens who comply with our tax laws can be assured that the United States vigorously prosecutes those who choose to violate them."
The prosecution of the matter was handled by Charles O'Reilly, DOJ tax division trial attorney, and Kenneth Snoke, Northern District of Oklahoma senior litigation counsel and assistant U.S. attorney. The investigation was undertaken by the Tulsa Office of the IRS Criminal Investigation Division.
"The harsh sentences these individuals received should serve as a stern warning to others, who are on a similar path of criminal non-compliance with the tax laws," said Andrea Whelan, IRS criminal investigation special agent-in-charge of the Dallas field office.