Thu February 28, 2008
Topeka Man Found Guilty in Pyramid Scheme
By Frank Morris
TOPEKA, KAN. – A jury has found Topeka entrepreneur Michael Cooper guilty on more than 70 counts for his involvement in a tax avoidance pyramid scheme in which he cheated thousands of people, and the federal government.
The government says that Cooper lured about 66,000 people to his company, Renaissance- the Tax People, by guaranteeing them thousands of dollars in fraudulent tax deductions. Jim Croos, a spokesman for the U.S. Attorney for Kansas, said that after a month and a half long trial, jurors found Cooper gouged clients who had hoped to gouge the government.
"The jury convicted Mr. Cooper on conspiring to evade taxes, a variety of counts of mail fraud and wire fraud and money laundering - all of which revolved around his offering of a sort of magic solution to taxes," Cross said.
Cooper's clients paid stiff franchise fees to sell Cooper's tax avoidance videos, and then claimed every trip to the store, vacation or piece of furniture as a business expense. Many of them wound up facing IRS penalties, and back taxes. The government says Cooper's scheme netted about $84 million. Cooper faces sentencing in May.