SEATTLE — A California man has been sentenced to 12 years in prison for leading a tax fraud scheme that cost the U.S. government $14 million.
Ronald L. Brekke of Orange County, Calif., helped nearly 1,000 people in three countries file claims for more than three-quarters of a billion dollars in fraudulent tax refunds, and the U.S. Treasury paid out $14 million before the scheme was uncovered.
Seattle U.S. District Court Judge John Coughenour sentenced Brekke on Friday and ordered him to pay $6.2 million in restitution.
Prosecutors said Brekke claimed the government would pay tax refunds equal to a person’s personal debt. The FBI and IRS had warned Brekke that his scheme was illegal.
He was arrested in 2010 after two of his Canadian co-conspirators were arrested in Bellingham as they tried to cash two refund checks for more than $350,000 each.