by Sam Clanton
SPRINGFIELD, Mo. – A total of 13 co-defendants are sentenced in federal court Monday and Tuesday, for their roles in a fraudulent tax return preparation scheme that resulted in more than 330-thousand dollars in bogus refunds.
According to Tammy Dickinson, U-S Attorney for the Western District of Missouri, a team of tax preparers led by 43-year-old Cherie Dupuis of Springfield filed tax returns that included fictitious employment information, wages that had not been earned, and taxes that had not been withheld.
Dupuis received the longest sentence, totaling two years and nine months in federal prison without parole. She is also ordered to pay nearly 273-thousand dollars in restitution.
According to Attorney Dickinson, Dupuis utilized tax preparation software called Taxact.com to prepare these false federal income tax returns on her own laptop computer, public library computers and on a co-conspirator’s laptop computer. She used a co-conspirator’s mailing address on some false federal income tax returns.
Dupuis admitted that she filed fraudulent federal income tax returns in her own name and for at least 19 other individuals, between February of 2009 and March of 2012. Dupuis would usually split the fraudulent refunds with her co-conspirators. The total amount of the false claims Dupuis personally prepared and/or filed was approximately $298,708, with approximately $256,281 being paid on these false claims and a loss to the government of approximately $213,711.
Seven additional defendants sentenced on Monday, Feb. 29, 2016, included:
- Johnny L. Cooper, 28, of Springfield, to seven months in prison and $10,100 in restitution;
- Shawna Marie Hughey, 37, of Joplin, Mo., formerly of Springfield, to six months in prison and $22,626 in restitution;
- Delbert L. Allen, 37, of Pleasant Hope, Mo., formerly of Springfield, to five months in prison and $4,541 in restitution;
- Jeannette R. Dunn, 48, of Huntsville, Ark., formerly of Springfield, to two months in prison and $10,430 in restitution;
- Lisa Lorre DeHaven, 35, of Springfield, to time served and $19,791 in restitution;
- Asia Michelle Couchman, 26, of Oak Grove, Mo., to five years of probation and $9,456 in restitution; and
- Heather Nicole Drennen, 32, of Cameron, Mo., formerly of Springfield, to five years of probation and $5,203 in restitution.
Five additional defendants sentenced Tuesday, March 1, 2016, included:
- Travis L. Ashmead, 30, of Springfield, to 10 months in prison and $9,906 in restitution;
- Amanda Leigh Boyd, 34, of Springfield, to six months in prison and $29,409 in restitution;
- William J. Coonce, 29, of Otterville, Mo.; to four months in prison and $15,750 in restitution;
- Claudia Dorsey, 34, of Springfield, to five years of probation and $27,791 in restitution; and
- Jeannie Marie Rhodes, 34, of Springfield, to five years of probation and $6,881 in restitution.
This case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Steven M. Mohlhenrich. It was investigated by IRS-Criminal Investigation.