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Two Garrard men indicted for $14.6M tax fraud scheme

US DISTRICT ATTORNEY

News release

LEXINGTON — According to court records unsealed yesterday, two Garrard County, Ky. men have been charged with engaging in a massive tax fraud scheme, involving more than $14 million.

As alleged in the indictment, 47-year-old Clarence Michel Jr. and 49-year-old Warren Griffin II failed to pay $14,671,184 in payroll taxes, owed by various staffing companies that they operated between 2012 and 2016. Specifically, the indictment alleges Michel and Griffin withheld payroll taxes from their employees’ paychecks; but instead of paying that money over to the Internal Revenue Service, they instructed an employee to write checks to them. The indictment further alleges that, to hide this scheme, Michel and Griffin changed the names of their companies and started new companies under the names of various nominee owners. Similarly, the indictment charges Michel and Griffin with aiding and assisting in the preparation of false personal tax returns, for tax years 2012 through 2015.

Robert M. Duncan, Jr., U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of Kentucky, and Christopher Altemus, special agent in charge, Internal Revenue Service-Criminal Investigation, jointly announced the indictment.

The investigation preceding the indictment was conducted by the Internal Revenue Service-Criminal Investigation. The indictment was presented to the grand jury by Assistant U.S. Attorney Dmitriy Slavin.

Michel was scheduled to appear in court Friday. Griffin previously appeared in the Southern District of Illinois, where he was arrested. His appearance in Kentucky has not yet been set. For the conspiracy charge and the charges of failing to pay over payroll taxes, each defendant faces up to 5 years in prison and a fine of $250,000. For the false statements on their personal taxes, each faces 3 years in prison and a $250,000 fine. However, any sentence following a conviction would be imposed by the Court, after its consideration of the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and the federal statutes.

Any indictment is an accusation only. A defendant is presumed innocent and is entitled to a fair trial at which the government must prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.