Colorado Springs residents George Brokaw, 68, John Pawelski, 66, and Mimi Vigil, 63, were sentenced by U.S. District Court Judge Christine Arguello for conspiracy to defraud the IRS and related tax charges.
After the three defendants failed to appear at their original sentencing hearing, Arguello issued a bench warrant for them, which resulted in Deputy U.S. Marshals locating and arresting them.
Tuesday, Brokaw, Pawelski and Vigil were sentenced to serve 78 months in federal prison, followed by three years on supervised release. Brokaw and Pawelski were each ordered to pay a $15,000 fine, and Vigil was ordered to serve 200 hours of community service.
The three defendants were indicted by a federal grand jury in Denver on May 22, 2013, which was followed by a superseding indictment on Oct. 21, 2013. They were convicted, following a five-day jury trial on Nov. 7, 2014. The jury deliberated for an hour and a half before reaching their verdicts.
According to the indictment and evidence, beginning in October 2008, and continuing through May 2009, Brokaw, Pawelski, Vigil and others conspired with each other to defraud the United States by submitting false claims for income tax refunds to the Internal Revenue Service.
The three filed or caused to be filed false, fictitious and fraudulent Form 1040 tax returns containing false claims for refunds in their names. A total of 12 fraudulent returns were filed attempting to receive more than $24 million in fraudulent refunds. They also submitted false Forms 1099-OID. The 1099-OID forms falsely reported that financial institutions, lenders or other entities had withheld and paid over to the IRS interest income from accounts which did not generate such interest income and from which no such withholdings were made. The Form 1040 tax returns claimed false refunds based on these false claims of withholdings.
From March 2008-April 2012, the three did not pay their taxes to the IRS. They submitted to the IRS false documents claiming to be tax payments owed to the IRS, the release said.
“It is everyone’s responsibility to cooperate with the IRS and their collection of taxes,” said U.S. Attorney John Walsh. “The defendants not only refused to pay their taxes, they also impeded the IRS and ignored a court order by failing to appear at the originally scheduled sentencing.”
“IRS – Criminal Investigations is working vigorously to stop abusive tax schemes that unfairly shift the tax burden to honest American taxpayers,” said Stephen Boyd, special agent in charge for IRS criminal investigation. “As our tax season gears up, this sentencing reinforces our commitment to every taxpayer that we will identify and prosecute those who try to defraud the tax system and evade paying their fair share of taxes.”