Accountant sentenced to prison for tax evasion He must serve 15 months after not paying $134,600 for three-year period

April 12, 1997|By Michael James | Michael James,SUN STAFF

A Harford County accountant received a 15-month federal prison sentence yesterday for failing to pay $134,600 in back taxes, the latest tax evader to be prosecuted in a recent surge of tax cases in U.S. District Court in Baltimore.

Kenneth L. Chrest, 41, of Street pleaded guilty to tax evasion for the years 1989, 1990, and 1991, having earned income between $119,000 and $148,000 in each of those years. But in federal tax returns, he claimed that in two years he didn't make any money and made only $30,793 in the third year, court papers said.

"He not only cheated the government out of its taxes, but he also stole from his clients so he could enrich himself," Assistant U.S. Attorney Carmina S. Hughes said in U.S. District Court in Baltimore.

In addition to evading his personal taxes, Chrest filed false quarterly payroll tax returns for one of his clients for the years 1990 and 1991, prosecutors said. Court records said Chrest received payroll money from his client, the trucking firm Thomas McKissock Inc.

But instead of depositing the money with the government, Chrest kept it and filed tax returns that falsely indicated that either no tax was due or substantially less was due, prosecutors said. More than $67,000 in payroll tax was fraudulently kept from the government, prosecutors said.

In addition to the sentence imposed by Judge Andre M. Davis, Chrest will be obligated to pay the back taxes, prosecutors said. He is due to begin serving the sentence June 1.

The tax evasion case is one of about six that are making or have made their way through U.S. District Court in Baltimore in recent weeks, although Internal Revenue Service officials say that the surge is coincidental to the tax deadline Tuesday.

"Our typical criminal investigation is in the works for a year to two years," said Dom LaPonzina, a spokesman for the Baltimore IRS office. "While there are some cases coming down for an indictment recently, the timing has nothing to do with this being tax season."

LaPonzina says 60 to 70 people a year are prosecuted for tax evasion in Maryland. Among the recent cases are a Bel Air tax preparer, Sanford Shapiro, who pleaded guilty this month to filing false returns for nine clients, and a Columbia businessman, Larry O. Collins, indicted April 4 on five counts of failing to file income tax. In each of the five years in question Collins made more than $45,000, prosecutors said.

Pub Date: 4/12/97

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