Archive for Tuesday, December 12, 2000

Prosecutors seek control of Topeka tax firm

December 12, 2000

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— Federal prosecutors are seeking to take control of nearly $9 million in what they allege was a massive mail-fraud scheme by a company that offers tax advice to its customers.

Jackie Williams, the U.S. attorney for Kansas, said Renaissance, The Tax People Inc., used the U.S. Postal Service to fraudulently amass $100 million from customers nationwide since 1997.

Williams recently filed a civil lawsuit in U.S. District Court in Wichita to have $8.9 million forfeited to the federal government. The money was confiscated from 13 financial accounts including bank accounts, an investment account, life insurance accounts and a safe deposit box connected to Renaissance.

Williams said Renaissance used false and misleading advertising and statements sent through the postal service.

On Friday, Michael Cooper, president and chief executive officer of Renaissance, insisted the company continues to operate under a restraining order issued in a separate case on Oct. 25 in Shawnee County District Court.

Atty. Gen. Carla Stovall filed a civil lawsuit alleging Renaissance is an illegal pyramid scheme. A temporary restraining order in that case allows the company to continue operating in a restricted fashion.

The company says it sells audit protection and tax advice.

"We have 100 audits in progress right now. Those people would be left stranded without us," Cooper said.

If the federal court agrees with Williams, the seized money would go to the government.

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