(WIBW) - A former employee of a now defunct tax company has been sentenced.
68-year old Jesse Cota of California will spend two years in federal prison for his role in a tax fraud scheme by a topeka based firm called Renaissance the Tax People.
In 2007, Cota pleaded guility to one count of conspiracy to defraud the IRS. Prosecutors say he bilked the government of more than $1.3 million and earned more than $300,000.
The U.S. Attorney's Office says owners of home-based businesses who paid to become members of Renaissance received services including tax preparation, tax advice and so-called “audit protection.” The so-called “Tax Advantage System” offered by Renaissance was based on fraudulent claims that business owners could legally reduce the taxes they paid by converting personal expenses to business deductions. Cota and other defendants falsely assured Renaissance clients the tax reduction methods were legal. In fact, tax returns filed using Renaissance’s methods were based on providing false and fraudulent information to the IRS.
“Citizens who pay their fair share of taxes can rest assured that the Department of Justice will continue to utilize all our resources to prosecute those who choose to cheat and promote fraud,” said John A. DiCicco, Acting Assistant Attorney General of the Justice Department Tax Division. “To those citizens who choose to engage in tax fraud, our warning is this: Whether you are a former IRS employee, president of a Fortune 500 company, or a waiter at a local restaurant, we are going to prosecute you and do our best to put you in jail.”
Co-defendants in this and related cases include:
– Michael Craig Cooper, founder and president of Renaissance, the Tax People, who is set for sentencing Nov. 18, 2009.
– Todd Eugene Strand, vice president of Renaissance, the Tax People, who is set for sentencing Sept. 28, 2009.
– Daniel Joel Gleason, a tax return preparer who is set for sentencing Sept. 8, 2009.
– Thomas Steelman, another former long-time IRS employee sentenced to 46 months in federal prison on Aug. 10, 2009.
– Gene Franklin, tax return preparer sentenced to 30 months in federal prison on Jan. 28, 2009.
– Elizabeth Crotts, tax return preparer sentenced to two years probation on July 22, 2008.
– Frances Ruth, tax return preparer sentenced to two years probation on May 19, 2008.
– Alexander Federico, tax return preparer sentenced to two years probation on April 21, 2008.