TALLAHASSEE - March 28, 2012
Lennie Fulwood, Jr., 43, of Tallahassee, was sentenced yesterday to 57 months in prison on four counts of tax evasion, announced Pamela C. Marsh, the United States Attorney for the Northern District of Florida.
Between 2005 and 2008, Fulwood ran a music store selling CDs and DVDs at the Tallahassee flea market. During the same period, Fulwood deposited more than $1.7 million in cash into accounts at five Tallahassee banks. The majority of the cash deposits were made into accounts held solely in the name of Fulwood’s brother, even though the money deposited belonged to Fulwood himself. Fulwood used the cash to purchase $683,000 in commercial and residential properties, each of which he titled solely in his brother’s name. Having hidden his assets in his brother’s name, Fulwood failed to file personal tax returns on the income he had earned. The IRS determined that Fulwood had a taxable income of $1.1 million and owed a total of more than $285,000 in taxes. When questioned by the IRS concerning his failure to file, Fulwood claimed that he had no taxable income and that his cash deposits were attributable to gifts from “friends.” Fulwood declined to identify these friends.
The week before his trial was scheduled to begin, Fulwood violated his bond conditions and traveled to Pikeville, Kentucky, where he induced a gravely-ill double-amputee in a Kentucky nursing home, to give a video-recorded statement to support Fulwood’s gift defense. In keeping with a script provided by Fulwood, the man falsely claimed to have given Fulwood $1 million in cash over a three-year period beginning in 2002. The man had won $27 million in the Kentucky lottery ten years earlier. When later questioned by agents in the case, the man admitted his videotaped statement was false. He said Fulwood had called him repeatedly, urging him to give false testimony, and that when he refused, Fulwood showed up unannounced at his nursing home and set up a video camera at the foot of his bed. The witness said he made the false statement to get Fulwood “off his back.” In spite of the fact that the witness ultimately recanted this video statement, Fulwood testified at trial that the man had actually given him $1 million in cash between 2002 and 2005.
Finding that Fulwood had obstructed justice by testifying falsely, the court sentenced him to 57 months in prison, to be followed by a term of three years’ supervised release. Fulwood was also ordered to pay $285,044 in restitution. The IRS has secured tax liens on Fulwood’s real estate purchases as partial payment on Fulwood’s back-taxes, interest and penalties.
United States Attorney Marsh praised the work of IRS Criminal Investigation, which was assisted in the case by the FBI and the Tallahassee Police Department. Marsh stated, "The investigation and prosecution of tax fraud are priorities of this office. We will continue to work diligently to insure compliance with the tax laws for the benefit of all of our citizens."
IRS Criminal Investigation Special Agent in Charge, Linda J. Osuna, stated "The prosecution of individuals who intentionally conceal income and evade taxes is a vital element in maintaining public confidence in our tax system. We should not expect the honest taxpayer to foot the bill for those who hide income from the IRS. Our agency welcomes opportunities such as these in order to make individuals account for their illegal actions. We are thankful to the U.S. Attorney, the prosecuting Assistant U.S. Attorney as well as our partner law enforcement agencies in the joint effort to bring justice to the U.S. tax system.”
The case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Karen Rhew-Miller.