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Business owner faces 113 years for tax crimes

State and federal revenue criminal departments have different sets of criminal codes that are completely separate from one another: separate criminal charges, separate courts and separate punishments for breaking Massachusetts versus federal criminal statutes.

Just planning on committing a crime can be a federal charge. It's called conspiracy. The federal government takes these laws so seriously that it is a crime just to plan to commit tax fraud or tax evasion. It becomes a conspiracy when two parties make an agreement to follow through on those plans.

One man in another state faces spending the rest of his life behind bars after failing to pay his business and employment taxes. The possible sentence is so harsh, we thought readers in Boston would be interested in hearing about it.

According to federal authorities, the business owner was charged with conspiracy for hiring illegal immigrants to work at his home elevation business. He would then allegedly pay his employees in such a way as to avoid reporting their salaries to the Internal Revenue Service.

The charges include conspiracy to conceal and encourage illegal immigrations, corruption, impeding the IRS, and failure to pay Social Security, payroll, income and Medicare taxes. In total, the man has been charged with 11 different charges. If found guilty, the man faces a $3 million fine, up to 113 years in federal prison and three years of supervised release.

To be guilty of conspiracy, the government needs to show that this man not only planned to conceal, hire and encourage the immigrants but that he actually took meaningful steps toward completing his plan. This cannot just be something the man thought about or talked about; he has to have taken proactive steps in order to be found guilty. The burden is now on the federal government to prove the allegations beyond a reasonable doubt.

Source: KATC, "Ponchatoula man and company face 11 federal charge," Aug. 13, 2012

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