(Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
ATLANTA -- United States District Judge Charles A. Pannell sentenced a husband and wife of Lawrenceville on Thursday.
According to a spokesperson for the office of United States Attorney Sally Quillian Yates, Stephen Paul Thomas, 46 and Patricia Denese Anderson claimed that they were not U.S. Citizens in order to avoid paying taxes. They also sought refunds of over $420,000.
Thomas was sentenced to five years, and Anderson was sentenced to four years, three months in federal prison. They were convicted by a jury on October 16, 2012, after a six-day trial.
"For over a decade, Thomas and Anderson waged a campaign and obstruction against the IRS, culminating in filing tax returns claiming hundreds of thousands of dollars in false refunds," Yates said. "They cheated not only the government, but their fellow tax payers. The sentence in this case demonstrates that those who defy the tax laws by obstructing the IRS and filing false and frivolous tax returns will be prosecuted and punished for their conduct."
"The term voluntary compliance means that each of us are responsible for filing a tax return when required and for paying the correct amount of tax," Acting Special Agent in Charge, IRS Criminal Investigation, Veronica Hyman-Pillot said. "That responsibility should not be taken lightly. The defendants chose to take extreme measures in order not to file and pay taxes and they are now convicted felons with a prison term to serve."
Thomas and Anderson were both fined $10,000 each. Following their time, they will each be under supervised release for three years.
According to Yates, Thomas and Anderson were married and together owned and operated an outdoor yard furnishing store and general contracting business in Duluth.
They hired an organization that sold and promoted tax defiance schemes, American Rights Litigators (ARL) to send obstructive and harassing materials to the IRS on their behalf. Thomas and Anderson repeatedly received demands from the IRS to pay their taxes.
The IRS shut down ARL for fraudulent anti-tax actions, but the couple still sent several obstructive, careless and harassing notes to IRS and Department of Treasury officials, rather than paying their taxes. In the documents, Thomas and Anderson claimed they were "American citizens" instead of U.S. citizens, and that tax paying was voluntary.
Thomas and Anderson also set up business bank accounts with false tax identification numbers so they could hide their money from the IRS. The told a bank, as well as a bartering exchange company that they operated business only in Belize, rather than within Georgia.
In 2009, they submitted two fraudulent tax returns claiming $420,000 from the IRS.
Also in 2009, Thomas and Anderson submitted false financial instruments to the federal government, including a document that was supposedly a $100 billion private registered bond. The note told the government to use that bond to pay their debts to the government.