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Four more plead guilty to tax fraud scheme - KOAM TV 7

Four more plead guilty to tax fraud scheme

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BAXTER SPRINGS, KANSAS -

Tammy Dickinson, United States Attorney for the Western District of Missouri, announced today that four more co-defendants have pleaded guilty in federal court to aiding and abetting a fraudulent tax return preparation scheme that claimed nearly $340,000 in fraudulent income tax refunds.

Jeannie Marie Rhodes, 34, of Springfield, Mo., pleaded guilty before U.S. Magistrate Judge David P. Rush today to making a false claim.

Shawna Marie Hughey, 37, of Joplin, Mo., formerly of Springfield, Johnny L. Cooper, 28, of Springfield, and William J. Coonce, 29, of Otterville, Mo., pleaded guilty on Monday, Aug. 24, 2015. Hughey and Coonce each pleaded guilty to two counts of making false claims. Cooper pleaded guilty to one count of making a false claim.

Co-defendant Cherie Christine Dupuis, 43, of Springfield, pleaded guilty on July 21, 2015, to leading the fraudulent tax return preparation conspiracy. Dupuis admitted that she and 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.

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.

Rhodes admitted that she aided and abetted Dupuis, and was aided and abetted by Dupuis, in filing a false federal income tax return in 2012. The return listed wages that Rhodes had not received and claimed a refund to which Rhodes knew she was not entitled. Rhodes provided his personal information to Dupuis, which Dupuis then used to file false income tax returns. The total loss to the government was $6,881.

Hughey admitted that she aided and abetted Dupuis, and was aided and abetted by Dupuis, in filing false federal income tax returns in 2011 and 2012. Both returns listed wages that Hughey had not received and claimed refunds to which Hughey knew she was not entitled. Hughey provided her personal information to Dupuis, which Dupuis then used to file false income tax returns. The total loss to the government was $22,626. Hughey also admitted that she paid Dupuis approximately $1,500 for the preparation of her and Cooper’s 2011 federal income tax returns.

Cooper admitted that he aided and abetted Dupuis, and was aided and abetted by Dupuis, in filing a false federal income tax return in 2012. The return listed wages that Cooper had not received and claimed a refund to which Cooper knew he was not entitled. Cooper provided his personal information to Dupuis, which Dupuis then used to file false income tax returns. The total loss to the government was $10,100. Cooper also admitted that he paid Dupuis approximately $2,000 from the proceeds of his fraudulent tax refund.

Coonce admitted that he aided and abetted Dupuis, and was aided and abetted by Dupuis, in filing false federal income tax returns in 2010 and 2011. Both returns listed wages that Coonce had not received and claimed refunds to which Coonce knew he was not entitled. Coonce provided his personal information to Dupuis, which Dupuis then used to file false income tax returns. The total loss to the government was $15,652. Coonce also admitted that he paid Dupuis approximately half of the proceeds of his fraudulent tax refunds.

Co-defendants Jeannette R. Dunn, 48, of Huntsville, Ark., formerly of Springfield, Asia Michelle Couchman, 26, of Oak Grove, Mo., and Delbert L. Allen, 37, of Pleasant Hope, Mo., formerly of Springfield, have pleaded guilty to the same charges.

Under federal statutes, Hughey and Coonce are each subject to a sentence of up to 10 years in federal prison without parole, plus a fine up to $500,000 and an order of restitution. Rhodes and Cooper are each subject to a sentence of up to five years in federal prison without parole, plus a fine up to $250,000 and an order of restitution. Sentencing hearings will be scheduled after the completion of presentence investigations by the United States Probation Office.

This case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Steven M. Mohlhenrich. It was investigated by IRS-Criminal Investigation.

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