Rhode Island Machine Shop Owner Sentenced to Prison for Tax Crimes

WASHINGTON - Bruce Lapierre of Pascoag, R.I., was sentenced to 51 months in prison today for tax evasion and conspiracy to defraud the United States, the Department of Justice and Internal Revenue Service (IRS) announced. Chief Judge Mary M. Lisi of the District of Rhode Island also ordered Lapierre to pay $463,988 in restitution. Judge Lisi ordered that Lapierre to begin serving his sentence on Oct. 28, 2009.

In March 2009, Lapierre and his co-defendants, Albert and Lorraine Martin, were convicted of conspiracy and two counts each of tax evasion. According to the indictment and evidence introduced during the eight-day trial, Lapierre and Albert Martin owned and operated Classic Machine, a Woonsocket, R.I.-based machine shop, from which they earned substantial income.

From 1997 to 2004, the defendants engaged in an elaborate scheme to conceal income from the IRS they earned through Classic Machine, and thus avoid paying taxes on that income. Rather than open business accounts for depositing business receipts and income, they used Lorraine Martin's personal account to conceal business receipts, as well as an anonymous "private" banking service designed to conceal income from the IRS.

The evidence also showed that the defendants, in order to further conceal their assets and income from the IRS, used multiple business names, such as Banner Technologies, Circle Machine, Preferred Enterprises and Royal Enterprises, to conduct the machine shop business. The defendants also made extensive use of cash and money orders. For example, they cashed checks under $10,000 in order to avoid federal Currency Transaction Reports, which are required for currency transactions of $10,000 or more.

According to evidence presented at trial, Lapierre tried to obstruct an IRS investigation of the machine shop's income by renaming business assets, by sending false and frivolous letters to the IRS claiming he was not required to file tax returns or pay taxes, and by directing a financial institution not to comply with an IRS summons for records.

Sentencing for Albert and Lorraine Martin is scheduled for Nov. 18, 2009. Each defendant faces a maximum of fifteen years in prison and a maximum fine of $750,000.

Acting Assistant Attorney General John A. DiCicco commended the IRS Special Agents who investigated the case, as well as Tax Division Trial Attorneys John Kane and Jorge Almonte who prosecuted the case.