The owner of a public accounting firm with an office in Tampa was sentenced to two years in federal prison after pleading guilty to tax fraud charges.
Walter Drakeford, Sr. entered a guilty plea on one count of interfering with the administration of Internal Revenue laws and sought community supervision on account of his age and health. The septuagenarian is scheduled to undergo heart surgery in May and, according to his attorney, suffers from severe diabetes, heart disease, and memory problems.
However, U.S. District Judge Steven D. Merryday was unmoved, opting to put Drakeford behind bars. Merryday indicated that the sentence is indicated to serve as a warning to others who may be tempted to commit the crimes to which Drakeford pled guilty.
According to federal prosecutors, Drakeford concocted and executed a plan to take advantage of a tax break for producers of unconventional fuels. They say his firm, named National Tax Inc., invented non-existent credits and marketed them to tax prepares who, in turn, advised their clients to claim those credits on their returns. When refunds were issued based upon those claimed credits, those taxpayers allegedly kicked up to 80% of it back to Drakeford’s firm, and a smaller amount was also given to the individual tax preparers.
Investigators said that Drakeford supplied fraudulent documents to attempt to throw the IRS off his trail as well.
All in all, prosecutors say the alleged scheme resulted in $4.2 million in fraudulent tax credits.
At sentencing Drakeford said he accepts full responsibility for the actions alleged by the government, and that he would attempt to correct his mistakes. He will begin serving his sentence at a federal medical center in Texas in September after he recovers from heart surgery.