Couple guilty of scam face longer term after ditching authorities - East Valley Tribune: Public Safety

Couple guilty of scam face longer term after ditching authorities

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Posted: Tuesday, October 4, 2011 5:17 pm

A former Mesa couple sentenced to 10 years in federal prison for promoting and selling bogus tax trust packages and corporations, costing “clients” millions of dollars, now could spend twice as long behind bars.

Micaela Renee Dutson, 48, and Tony Dutson, 54, will be sentenced on Dec. 8 for failure to surrender for service of a prison sentence after removing their electronic monitoring ankle bracelets and absconding from the law earlier this year.

The couple were caught in the Phoenix area in June, about a month after they were required to report to the Bureau of Prisons to begin serving their initial 10-year sentence.

The Dutsons, who moved to Mesa in 2003 and also lived in Tigard, Ore., were found guilty in 2010 for a tax scam and crimes they began committing in 1997 involving fictitious financial instruments and helping people avoid paying taxes to the Internal Revenue Service, according to the Department of Justice and IRS special agent Daniel Wardlaw.

The couple began the scam in the 1997 while working out of Micaela Dutson’s Oregon law office, by selling clients more than $44 million in fake tax trust shelters while promoting the trusts as tax free. The scam lasted more than four years and the Dutsons failed to pay income tax on an income of more than $1 million, according to the IRS. Clients lived in Arizona, Alaska, California, Hawaii, Oregon and Washington.

Other clients who did not pay income tax while depositing income into the trusts were required to pay back taxes and penalties for not filing income tax returns, according to Hannah Horsley, a prosecutor for the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Portland.

The Dutsons also filed about 30 fraudulent tax returns, and attempted to claim refunds from the IRS totaling more than $185 million. They also prepared an $108 million lien for a client against John Snow, then secretary of the Treasury.

After a two-week jury trial in June 2010, the Dutsons were convicted on the offenses in the U.S. District Court in Portland, Ore., and in March they were sentenced to 10 years in prison. However, the Dutsons remained free on bond and were required to report to the Bureau of Prisons to begin serving their prison sentence in May, but removed their ankle bracelets and absconded from a relative’s residence in Elgin, Ore., where they were staying, authorities said.

• Contact writer: (480) 898-6533 or msakal@evtrib.com

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