Monday, May 20, 2024

Owner of West Virginia EMS business convicted of tax crimes

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BECKLEY, W.Va. (WVVA) – The owner of a West Virginia ambulance business was convicted of tax crimes in federal court on Thursday.

According to the U.S. Department of Justice, Christopher Jason Smyth, 48, of Pineville, was convicted by a jury after a four-day trial. The jury found Smyth guilty of two counts of failing to pay over taxes for two quarters in 2016 and one count of obstructing the IRS related to its efforts to collect the unpaid taxes from Smyth. 

The jury found Smyth not guilty on the failure to pay over taxes counts related to two quarters in 2017.

Court documents and statements showed that Smyth operated Stat EMM, LLC, of Pineville, from 2012 through part of 2017.

Smyth created Stat EMS after the previous ambulance business that he owned accrued millions of dollars of employment tax liabilities and filed for bankruptcy. He caused Stat EMS to be founded in the name of a nominee owner but continued operating the business in the same manner as before.

Smyth’s responsibilities at Stat EMS included withholding Social Security, Medicare, and income taxes from employees’ wages and paying them to the IRS, but for two quarters in 2016, he did not fully pay the taxes to the IRS.

He, instead, paid various personal expenses and transferred funding to businesses held by his friends and family.

It was determined by the IRS that Smyth accrued approximately $3.3 million in unpaid taxes.

The IRS assessed the unpaid taxes against Smyth personally and attempted to collect those from him, but when interviewed by an IRS officer attempting to collect payment, Smyth said he had no personal bank accounts and denied using anyone else’s. He also attempted to mislead the revenue officer by representing that he had nothing to do with several other businesses, even though he had signature authority over their bank accounts.

However, Smyth was regularly depositing funds into an account under a relative’s name.

Smyth is set to be sentenced on September 4 where he faces up to five years in prison for each failure to pay taxes count and three years in prison for obstructing the IRS. His sentence will be decided by a federal district court judge after considering the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.

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