Federal Grand Jury in Denver Returns 2 Indictments Charging 8 People With Mail Fraud Related to Fraudulent Tax Scheme

DENVER (LAWFUEL) – A federal grand jury in Denver this week returned two sealed indictments charging eight individuals with crimes related to the preparing or assisting in preparing false tax returns. Of the eight indicted, three were arrested today without incident. Authorities are seeking five others. All of those arrested today appeared this afternoon in U.S. District Court in Denver, where they were advised of the charges pending against them.

According to the allegations contained in the first indictment, Jeffrey Harris, age 49, of Aurora, Louann Savala, age 39, of Denver, Manikhone Saignaphone (a.k.a. Mani Saignaphone), age 39, of Centennial, Manivone Saignapone (a.k.a. Mindy Saignaphone), age 42, of Aurora, Annalisa Whitaker, age 34, of Centennial, and Phonsavath Senethong, age 42, of Aurora, allegedly filed, or assisted in the preparation and filing, of over 700 amended returns with the IRS, containing falsified information, resulting in claims to the IRS for refunds in excess of $2,000,000 to taxpayers for tax years 2001 through 2004; and over 400 amended returns with the Colorado Department of Revenue (CDR) containing falsified information, resulting in claims to the CDR for refunds in excess of $300,000 to taxpayers for tax years 2001 through 2004.

According to the allegations contained in the second indictment, Louann Savala, age 39, of Denver, Manikhone Saignaphone (a.k.a. Mani Saignaphone), and Jessica Arambula, age 27, of Denver, filed, or assisted in the preparation and filing, of over 50 amended returns with the IRS containing falsified information, resulting in claims to the IRS for refunds in excess of $200,000 to taxpayers for tax years 2002 through 2005.

As part of the scheme, Jeffrey Harris owned and controlled a Colorado corporation which operated under the name of Olympia Financial and Tax Services, Inc., which operated in Aurora, Colorado. Louann Savala, Manikhone Saignaphone (a.k.a. Mani Saignaphone), and Jessica Arambula operated a tax return preparation service using various business names, including: MLM Financial, LJ Financial, GP Financial & Tax Services, and Second Option Tax Services, which operated from the personal residences of the defendants in the Metro Denver area.

The primary purpose of these businesses was to seek tax refunds for taxpayers by preparing and filing amended, individual tax returns with the IRS and CDR on behalf of their customers. This included causing, or attempting to cause, the IRS and CDR to pay refund checks to their customers based on the false and fraudulent information provided to the IRS and CDR.

Those arrested today include: Manikhone Saignaphone (a.k.a. Mani Saignaphone), Manivone Saignapone (a.k.a. Mindy Saignaphone), and Phonsavath Senethong.

Both indictments allege: mail fraud, which carries a penalty of not more than 20 years in federal prison, and up to a $100,000 fine, per count, with a total of 28 counts; conspiracy to defraud the Government, which carries a penalty of not more than 10 years in federal prison, and up to a $250,000 fine, per count, with a total of 2 counts; and false claims, which carries a penalty of not more than 5 years in prison, and up to a $250,000 fine, per count, with a total of 38 counts.

“If someone suggests you file a bogus amended tax return to get more money, think twice,” said United States Attorney Troy A. Eid.

“They created false deductions to generate fraudulent refunds and we are determined to stop these tax refund schemes,” said Christopher M. Sigerson, Special Agent in Charge of the IRS-Criminal Investigation, Denver Field Office.

“The United States Postal Service Office of the Inspector General considers these allegations to be extremely serious,” said David A. Montoya, Special Agent in Charge of the U.S. Postal Service Office of the Inspector General. “The overwhelming majority of postal employees are honest, hardworking, and trustworthy individuals who would never consider engaging in this type of criminal behavior. But when a postal employee betrays that trust, our special agents vigorously investigate those matters.”

“The State of Colorado is working to protect taxpayers from such schemes,” said Roxy Huber, Executive Director of the Colorado Department of Revenue. “In addition to the ongoing efforts of our criminal investigation section, state lawmakers this year created a new $500 penalty per return against unscrupulous tax preparers to stop these abuses.”

This case was investigated by the United States Postal Service – Office of the Inspector General, the Colorado Department of Revenue, and the IRS Criminal Investigation.

The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Tim Neff.

The charges are only allegations, and the defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.

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