Two West Virginian business owners pleaded guilty today to conspiring to defraud the United States regarding their employment taxes and individual income taxes, announced Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Richard E. Zuckerman of the Justice Department’s Tax Division and U.S. Attorney Michael B. Stuart for the Southern District of West Virginia.
According to court documents, Russell and Karen Rucker, a married couple, operated Rucker, Billups and Fowler Inc. (RBF), an insurance agency located in Huntington, West Virginia. Russell Rucker was the president of RBF and since approximately late 2013, Karen Rucker served as a financial officer. Between September 2015 and September 2018, the Ruckers withheld approximately $143,226 in payroll taxes from the wages of RBF’s employees, which they did not pay over to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) despite their obligation to do so. Instead, the Ruckers diverted portions of the withheld funds for their own personal benefit. For instance, from 2014 through 2016 the Ruckers continued to pay themselves over $500,000 in salary. In response to IRS collection efforts and in an attempt to conceal funds from the IRS, the Ruckers deposited money into the bank account of another individual. The Ruckers also attempted to evade IRS levies by using a series of bank accounts that they did not disclose to the IRS and by paying many of their bills, including their mortgage, in cash.
The Ruckers also attempted to evade payment of $114,911 of Russell Rucker’s 2001, 2002, and 2005 individual income taxes by disguising paychecks issued to Russell Rucker as non-taxable “note proceeds.” Additionally, the Ruckers have failed to file their individual income tax returns and RBF’s corporate returns for 2014 through 2017. The intended tax loss caused to the IRS by their conduct is more than $250,000.
Sentencing has been scheduled for Jan. 27, 2020. The Ruckers each face a statutory maximum sentence of five years in prison. They also face monetary penalties, a period of supervised release, and restitution.
Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Zuckerman and U.S. Attorney Stuart commended special agents of IRS-Criminal Investigation, who investigated the case, and Trial Attorneys Alexander Effendi and Lauren Archer of the Tax Division, who are prosecuting this case.
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