Oct. 1, 2004 Florida residents Donald and Carolyn Helms allegedly sold prepaid phone cards in the U.S. Virgin Islands generating more than $7.5 million in gross receipts but failed to pay taxes to the V.I. Bureau of Internal Revenue, according to Anthony Jenkins, acting U.S. Attorney.
Jenkins announced in a press release Thursday that a federal grand jury returned a Superseding Indictment charging Donald James Helms Jr. And Carolyn Saunders with conspiracy to evade payment of V.I. gross receipts taxes, for the period January 2000 through November 2002.
Previously, on May 13, a federal grand jury returned an indictment charging the couple along with Katherine Cardinal and Johnny Neil Smith with "conspiracy and structuring monetary transactions, for the purpose of avoiding a currency reporting requirement," Jenkins said in the release. (See "4 Charged with Conspiracy and Money Laundering").
The additional charges arose out of an investigation conducted by the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, the IRS, the V.I. Bureau of Internal Revenue and other federal agencies, Jenkins. The investigation revealed that the couple, operating as West Indies Phone Cards, sold prepaid phone cards generating in excess of $7.5 million in gross receipts.
"The investigation further revealed that no gross receipts tax returns were filed in the Virgin Islands during that time period, resulting in a tax loss to the VIBIR in the amount of $309,479.98, not including interest and penalties," Jenkins said.
Donald Helms, 50, and Carolyn Saunders Helms, 37, are residents of Florida. Cardinal and Smith, identified in the previous indictment as residents of the U.S. Virgin Islands, served as office managers for the Helms' phone card company.
In the previous indictment, the four were charged with money laundering and conspiracy in connection with a scheme in which they allegedly purchased almost $7 million in money orders at various post offices throughout the Virgin Islands over a three-year period in small amounts that would not trigger a legally mandated reporting mechanism, according to a May 2004 release from U.S. Attorney David Nissman's office.
Jenkins commended the work of the agencies that conducted the investigation.
The maximum penalty for the tax conspiracy offense is not more than $10,000 or imprisonment of not more than 5 years, or both, he said.
Jenkins stressed that the indictment is a "charging document" and the defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty.
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