A Massachusetts woman pleaded guilty today to filing a false tax return and engaging in a pattern of financial transactions designed to avoid bank currency transaction reporting requirements.
According to court documents and statements made in court, Michele L. Letourneau of Charlton was the President, Treasurer and majority owner of a commercial trash collection and removal business. Between January 2016 and December 2020, Letourneau skimmed business income by directing her office staff to separate checks written to her company that contained “Inc.” in the payee description from those that did not. Those checks that included “Inc.” were logged into the company’s customer tracking system and accounting ledgers and deposited into the business bank account.
The separated checks were given to Letourneau after being logged into the company’s customer tracking system, but not into the accounting ledgers. Instead, Letourneau regularly batch deposited a vast majority of the checks missing the “Inc.” into a personal bank account she jointly held with another, purposely keeping each deposit under $10,000 to illegally avoid bank reporting requirements for currency transactions in excess of $10,000, commonly referred to as structuring. Once available, Letourneau would then withdraw the exact amount as was deposited. In all, Letourneau admitted to structuring 196 deposits and withdrawals knowing that banks were required to issue a report for a currency transaction in excess of $10,000.
In total, Letourneau structured approximately $1,261,724 worth of transactions from 2016 to 2020 and did not disclose this income or the bank account to the preparers of her corporate and personal tax returns. Letourneau admitted to filing a false 2018 personal return that substantially underreported her income for that year and, in total, her conduct during this period caused a tax loss to the IRS in the amount $472,167.
Letourneau is scheduled to be sentenced on Jan. 4, 2024, and faces a maximum penalty of three years in prison for filing a false return and five years for cash structuring. She also faces a period of supervised release, restitution and monetary penalties. A federal district court judge will determine any sentence after considering the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.
Acting Deputy Assistant Attorney General Stuart M. Goldberg of the Justice Department’s Tax Division and Acting U.S. Attorney Joshua S. Levy for the District of Massachusetts made the announcement.
IRS-Criminal Investigation is investigating the case.
Assistant Chief Jorge Almonte and Trial Attorney George Meggali of the Tax Division are prosecuting the case.