A Louisana couple who runs a convenience store and check cashing business were sentenced for Conspiracy and Filing False Tax Returns last week. The pair worked with several co-conspirators to cash fraudulent tax refund checks while charging an inflated cashing fee. They received stiff penalties and sentences for their tax crimes. The U.S. Department of Justice tells us more:
Susantha Wijetunge, aka VJ, 52, was sentenced by U.S. District Court Judge Lance M. Africk of the Eastern District of Louisiana to serve 44 months in prison and his spouse, Manula Wijetunge, aka Manu, 48, was sentenced by Judge Africk to serve three years of probation. The Wijetunges owned VJ Discount Inc., a Louisiana corporation that operated a convenience store and check cashing business in Kenner. Susantha Wijetunge, VJ Discount Inc. and others cashed, for an inflated fee, fraudulently obtained tax refund checks for multiple co-conspirators. These transactions often involved multiple checks and tens of thousands of dollars. In an attempt to conceal this illegal activity, Susantha Wijetunge and others failed to file, or filed false, required currency transaction reports with the government.
Susantha Wijetunge also filed multiple false income tax returns, both individual and corporate, that underreported income. The Wijetunges admitted that VJ Discount Inc. had third party check deposits totaling more than $59 million in 2011; $47 million in 2012; and $66 million in 2013. Despite this large volume of business, the Wijentunges’ individual income tax returns reported total income of less than $100,000 per year.
In March 2016, Susantha Wijetunge pleaded guilty to conspiring to defraud the United States and to committing mail and wire fraud, and Manula Wijetunge pleaded guilty to willfully filing a false 2013 individual income tax return.
In addition to the term of prison imposed, Susantha Wijetunge was ordered to serve three years of supervised release, pay a fine of $750,000 and pay $562,500 in restitution to the IRS for his tax crimes. In addition to the term of probation imposed, Manula Wijetunge was ordered to pay a fine of $250,000 and $208,125 in restitution to the IRS. The Wijetunges were ordered to forfeit $4.1 million.
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