LAS VEGAS (CN) - Three men were sentenced to lengthy prison terms and ordered to pay more than $35 million for defrauding businesses looking for tax relief.
Alan Rodrigues was sentenced Tuesday to 6 years in federal prison and ordered to pay more than $35 million in restitution. Rodrigues was executive vice president and general manager of the defunct National Audit Defense Network.
Company president Weston Coolidge was sentenced to 70 months in prison and more than $35 million in restitution.
Joseph Prokop, a former NFL punter and former national marketing director for Orvan Management and Financial Services, was sentenced to 18 months and more than $35 million in restitution.
A jury on May 27, 2014, convicted them of conspiracy to commit tax fraud, 13 counts of aiding and assisting preparation of false income tax returns and four counts of mail fraud.
Rodrigues and Coolidge were also convicted of two counts of aiding and assisting in preparing false income tax returns.
They promoted and sold a product called Tax Break 2000.
They claimed it would help businesses get income tax credits and deductions under the Americans with Disabilities Act for modifying a website each customer received and making it accessible for handicapped and disabled people.
"We view schemes like Tax Break 2000 as organized tax evasion," said IRS criminal investigator John Collins. "Instead of being a tax break, this fraudulent product cost the victims much more in the end with interest and penalties."
More than 18,000 customers paid $10,475 apiece for the product, which the men sold from 2001 to 2004, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office.
The three men directed the preparation of thousands of fraudulent tax returns and falsification of Forms 1099 to show fictitious incomes for customers, thousands of whom customers wound up being audited by the IRS.