Man gets prison for stealing charities’ identities in tax fraud scheme

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SAN DIEGO — A San Marcos man who utilized the names of various charities as part of a multi-million dollar tax fraud scheme was sentenced to 46 months in federal custody Friday.

Robert Holcomb, 53, will also be required to pay a $600,000 fine for opening bank accounts under the names of at least four charities as part of his work as an “asset protection” specialist, a scheme prosecutors say he ran for more than a decade.

Holcomb was convicted by a federal jury in July on four counts of making false statements to a financial institution, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

For a commission, Holcomb would take funds from his clients, funnel them through accounts opened under the names of nonexistent charities, then return the funds to clients, minus amounts he assured his clients “no longer constituted taxable income,” according to prosecutors.

His clients would then file tax returns “that substantially underreported their true income, resulting in millions of dollars in lost income to the IRS,” prosecutors alleged. The loss was totaled at more than $12 million over the course of a decade, with more than $1 million going to Holcomb by way of his commissions.

However, when several of his bank accounts were frozen, Holcomb altered the scheme to open “dozens of” accounts under the names of actual charities.

Among the charities Holcomb utilized were:

— Light of Life LLC, which operated a soup kitchen and rescue mission in Pittsburgh

— On Eagle’s Wings LLC, which provided missionary outreach in the Northwest Territories of Canada

— Push the Rock, LLC, a Pennsylvania-based Christian sports ministry

— Sharing and Caring, LLC, a Pittsburgh-based organization that organized an annual boat trip for wounded veterans

Representatives from the charities testified at trial that they did not know Holcomb or sanction his use of their charities’ names to open bank accounts, prosecutors said.

During a search of his home, Holcomb also told IRS investigators that he could use “whatever (charity) number” he wanted because he was “USA posterity,” and “part of the upper caste” descended from the original founders of the “Massachusetts Bay Company,” meaning he was not subject to paying taxes.

“Holcomb used a series of sham trust arrangements to divert millions of taxpayer dollars into his own pocket,” U.S. Attorney Robert Brewer said. “His offense was particularly egregious because he used the identities of real charities in order to avoid detection and continue collecting commissions on funds that should have gone to the U.S. Treasury.

“No one is above the law and merely claiming to be a sovereign citizen will not exempt you from criminal liability.”

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