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Federal grand jury indicts 3 on tax fraud

POSTED: April 23, 2008 5:02 a.m.

Several people were indicted this week in federal tax fraud cases, including a Gainesville woman and a Cumming man, the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Atlanta announced Friday.

The indictments come as the tax filing deadline is only days away.

"The April 15 deadline should not serve as a temptation to cheat on taxes, for either taxpayers or tax preparers. There are millions of Americans who comply honestly and conscientiously with the laws regarding the preparation and filing of their income tax returns, and the ones who cheat take money away from everyone who pays his or her share," United States Attorney David E. Nahmias said. "The IRS and other federal investigative agencies are also on the lookout for related fraud, and taxpayers need to know that you, not your tax preparer, are ultimately responsible for the information that goes on your tax return."

The indictments were handed down this week by a federal grand jury in Atlanta.

Jacqueline Demer, 49, of Gainesville and Jerry Lahr, 64, formerly of Duluth, and now of Hurst, Texas, were indicted on charges of conspiracy to impede the IRS in assessing the collection of Lahr’s federal income taxes. According to the indictment, Lahr and Demer used shell companies to conceal income and assets, and passed fake bonds. They face a maximum prison term of 25 years and a fine of up to $250,000, as well as full restitution. Both were arraigned Thursday before a U.S. Magistrate Court judge.

Daniel Edward Turner, 42, of Cumming was indicted on charges of corruptly interfering and submitting fictitious obligations for payment on behalf of him and his spouse to the IRS. According to the indictment, Turner paid fees to an organization called American Rights Litigators in exchange for his use of the group’s fraudulent tax schemes, and attempted to conceal his true income from the IRS. Turner was arraigned Thursday before a U.S. Magistrate Court judge in Gainesville.

These cases are being investigated by special agents of the Internal Revenue Service, Criminal Investigation, in conjunction with other federal law enforcement agencies.

"IRS Criminal Investigation investigates tax fraud year-round, not only at tax time. Those taxpayers who might be thinking about cheating should think twice or suffer the consequences," said IRS Criminal Investigations Special Agent In Charge Rebecca Sparkman.

In another recent case, Robert Merickle, 59, of Dawsonville was sentenced to one year in prison on tax evasion charges on March 21. Merickle owned a pool construction company called "Blue Haven Pools" and skimmed over $500,000 from his company in unreported cash and by falsifying personal expenses and business expenses.

He pleaded guilty in December to the charges. According to officials, Merickle spent more than $200,000 from his company’s account for personal expenses, which included the financing of a 55-foot luxury yacht, but treated those expenses as business expenses.



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