The Internal Revenue Service has once again provided its top ten list of the “most prominent and high-profile criminal tax investigations” of 2021.
The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) is the agency of the U.S. Treasury tasked with identifying, investigating, and prosecuting tax crime. The new top ten list of the IRS Criminal Investigation (IRS-CI) was recently released on Twitter. Tune into this space each month as we count down the top 10 most notorious criminal tax matters handled by IRS-CI last year.
We begin with number ten on the list:
Stiff prison sentences follow couple who fleeced vulnerable Americans through a bogus non-profit
Money laundering, aggravated identity theft, mail fraud—and much more is the legacy of Susan and William Harris, an Albuquerque couple who engaged in serious financial crime between November 2006 and July of 2017.
Susan Harris, 74, was a co-founder of Ayudando Guardians, a non-profit agency. Now defunct, the agency was established to provide a variety of services to individuals with special needs. In addition to financial work, the non-profit provided conservatorship and guardian services. William Harris, 60, functions as a guardian.
The original indictment filed against the couple and a small crew of their closest friends included 28-counts. The group set up and ran the agency to embellish their lifestyles while embezzling millions of dollars intended for the benefit of disabled clients.
If there was a way to siphon money away from a business, this group managed it. With Ms. Harris as the president and Sharon Moore, age 64, as CFO, money was freely transferred out of client accounts into accounts controlled by Ms. Harris or others. Checks were written on co-mingled client accounts and laundered through other accounts and businesses. By 2017, the fraud had expanded to applying for business loans to purportedly expand the business, but for which funds would actually be used to reimburse client accounts that had been pilfered.
Scams involving tax fraud and money laundering often skim off money to bolster the financial whims of those involved. This case is no different. Stolen money was used to purchase homes, RVs, luxury vacations, vehicles, credit cards, sports viewing boxes, and to pay off other debt.
A Special Agent involved in the investigation from the Albuquerque Field Office said, “Taking advantage of disabled veterans and other vulnerable Americans deserves a harsh penalty, especially when those entrusted with their finances instead use the money for vacations and other expensive perks.”
Mr. Harris was sentenced to 15 years in federal prison. Ms. Harris, sentenced to 47 years in prison, will likely never walk free again in her life. Both are obligated to repay all of the funds stolen from their victims. The son of Ms. Harris, Craig Young, 53, was sentenced to just under six years in prison and payment of $6.8 million in victim restitution. Serious financial crime translates to serious punishment.
If this is number 10 on the list of high-profile IRS-CI cases for the year 2021, last year must have been quite a year for tax and other financial crime. Check back later as the countdown continues with number nine on the list.
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