Two Keymar residents pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court on Monday to defrauding the federal government of more than $30 million through an elaborate scheme of acquiring government contracts, stealing about $1.6 million in employee benefits and attempting to evade paying nearly $500,000 in taxes.
Shaun Tucker, 49, and his wife, Joanne Tucker, 50, pleaded guilty as part of a deal with the federal government, according to a U.S. Attorney's Office news release.
U.S. District Court Judge J. Frederick Motz scheduled both for sentencing Nov. 20.
Prior to the defendants entering a plea deal, the Tuckers faced a maximum of 30 years in prison and fines amounting more than twice what they gained from their fraud scheme, according to the release.
However, if the U.S. District Court accepts the plea deal, Shaun Tucker would be sentenced to serve eight years in prison and to pay at least $30 million, while Joanne Tucker would serve six to 18 months and pay at least $20 million. They would also have to pay restitution of about $1.6 million to their employees for stealing from their benefits program and pay the Internal Revenue Service $492,961 for taxes owed from 2009 to 2011, according to the release. Their home in Keymar would also be forfeited.
According to the release, the Tuckers were the controlling partners of Quantell Inc. and Intaset Technologies Corp. from 2007 to 2010. Though they sold Intaset in 2010, they remained influential in the company's operations.
In a related case, co-conspirator Jonathan Mickle, 43, of Asheville, North Carolina, formerly of Taneytown, pleaded guilty to charges of wire fraud and tax fraud in late June. His sentencing is scheduled for Nov. 3 in the U.S. District Court of Baltimore.
Mickle was the chief operating officer for the two companies from 2004 to 2012. He faces a maximum of 20 years and a $250,000 fine or twice the gain or loss for a charge of conspiracy to commit fraud, according to another news release from the U.S. Attorney's Office. He would also possibly face an additional three years and a $100,000 fine for tax fraud.
The Times reported in June that Mickle filed a tax return in 2011 that claimed his taxable income as zero. His actual income was nearly $31,000 and the tax owed was about $12,000, according to a U.S. Attorney's Office news release quoted by the Times in June.
Attempts by phone to reach Rod Rosenstein, U.S. attorney for the District of Maryland, were not successful.
From 2007 to 2013, the Tuckers, along with Mickle, perpetrated a scheme to gain government contracts normally set aside for small businesses and service disabled veteran owned small businesses equaling more than $30 million, the release said. They misrepresented the two company's past revenues, profits, locations and other key attributes, enabling them to win contracts that the federal government had meant to award to businesses that legitimately qualified for these set-aside contracts, according to the release.
The Tuckers and their co-conspirators developed false identities and a front business called Staff-It, and used these to falsely portray Quantell's past performance to the Department of Defense, according to the release.
The defendants then used the money gained from these contracts for their personal benefit, such as building additions to their properties in Keymar and Taneytown that included a gym, bar, and break room; buying a 45-foot sailboat and multiple automobiles; and making mortgage payments and payments on these other purchases, according to the U.S. State's Attorney's Office release.
The Tucker's home in Keymar, located in the 1400 block of River Way Drive, had several vehicles in the driveway Tuesday afternoon.
They together with Mickle also diverted $1.6 million in funds that were required to be used for employee benefits as part of these contracts, and — by creating shell companies — were able to conceal the diversion of these funds from 2008 to 2012, according to the release.
And from 2009 to 2011, the Tuckers attempted to avoid paying almost $500,000 in taxes as a result of these fraud schemes, according to the release.
According to court documents, the investigation of the Tuckers has been ongoing since at least March 2013. At that time, search warrants were conducted on multiple locations associated with the Tuckers with a focus on tax evasion and employee benefit embezzlement. It was only after the searches were conducted that the U.S. government uncovered evidence of the larger fraud scheme.
The Tuckers were initially indicted by a federal grand jury in September for embezzling from employee benefit plans and tax evasion, but a superseding grand jury indictment released April 2 added a charge of stealing $1.5 million in employee benefits, said Marcia Murphy, a spokeswoman for the U.S Attorney's Office District of Maryland. The amount was later changed to $1.6 million.
Murphy said the $30 million in fraud was included in the indictments but were not stated as specific charges because the investigation was ongoing.
"A lot of times, what happens, the investigation continues after the indictment, so the superseding indictment added information that wasn't in the original indictment," Murphy said.
The investigation was handled by the National Procurement Fraud Task Force, a joint effort by the U.S. Attorney's Office, the FBI, the U.S. Inspectors General and a number of other federal agencies.
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