Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Tax Attorney: Attorney evades tax, goes to prison

Tax Attorney

A federal judge Friday ordered a former attorney from Cottonwood Heights to spend three years in prison and to pay a total of about $307,000 for his attempt to circumvent taxes.

A jury convicted Thomas Wood in August after a week-long trial for corruptly impeding the IRS and failing to file taxes for two years.

Although evidence at trial showed Wood hadn't filed taxes since the 1980s, he was only prosecuted for 2000 and 2001. His income totaled $236,000 for the two years, according to a press release by the U.S Department of Justice.

But much of those funds during the two years weren't his and in fact were skimmed from investors' accounts being held in a Canadian Ponzi scheme, the MyCor Investment Club.

Friday's prosecution addressed hundreds of thousands of dollars that Wood spent for himself as well as millions of tax-free dollars he spent and hid on behalf of two other convicted tax criminals, Glenn Ambort and John Benson.

Ambort and Benson floated millions of dollars from the MyCor scheme and Wood hid it by funneling the funds into offshore accounts and high-priced real estate. The funds from duped investors bought the men homes in Deer Valley, Draper and Roosevelt, as well as homes in Malibu and San Luis Obispo, Calif., according to evidence at trial.

While Wood was buying homes and shifting funds to debit card accounts in the Bahamas from 1998 to 2002, Ambort and Benson were awaiting trial on federal charges of tax fraud.

After the Utah Division of Securities investigated Wood's role in the scheme, he pled guilty to a misdemeanor securities violation, according to court documents.

"Mr. Wood's case is troubling in that it arose from the legal profession. It is our hope that this prosecution... will help promote the integrity of the income tax laws by discouraging others from ignoring or circumventing their obligations," U.S. Attorney Brett L. Tolman said Friday.

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