Tax Law

Men Who Hired Fake Lawyer to File Phony Tax Returns Get 1-Year Sentence

Two Texas men who hired a phony lawyer to allegedly help them file fraudulent tax returns were sentenced to prison Thursday.

Richard Tilford and Bartlett Smith each were sentenced to serve a year for for tax evasion, the Dallas Morning News’ Crime Blog reports. According to the article, Tilford, a self-employed insurance agent, hired Phillip Monroe Ballard to file late tax returns claiming that Tilford earned no income in the “constitutional sense.”

Prosecutors say that Smith, a drywall construction operator, hired Ballard to set up a fake church and corporation for him so he could avoid paying taxes for six years.

Ballard, 71, has his own problems. In addition to facing tax charges, on Oct. 1 he was charged with conspiracy to kill U.S. District Judge John McBryde, who presided over Ballard’s tax case, Crime Blog reported at the time. Authorities said Ballard feared McBryde would sentence him to more than 20 years in prison and told another inmate he’d pay $100,000 in cash to have the jurist killed.

Ballard gave the inmate, a federal informant, detailed instructions, the paper reports. He suggested a high-powered rifle and a scope to shoot McByrde as he entered the federal courthouse. Authorities said Ballard suggested planting a bomb in the judge’s vehicle if that didn’t work.

An undercover agent posed as a hit man, and Ballard reportedly contacted him several times to discuss arrangements and payments. Ballard also sent an email to his sister instructing her to send the hit man a $5,000 payment, authorities said.

If convicted, Ballard could face 20 years in prison. His tax charges remain ongoing. The Arlington man also has a 1987 conviction for forcible rescue of seized property, according to Crime Blog. Ballard reportedly gave his Mercedes to a friend as a gift after learning there was a federal tax lien against him. When law enforcement tried to seize the car, Ballard drove it away, and it was never recovered.

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