The Justice Department said that a California marketer has pleaded guilty to a conspiracy charge of defrauding the United States for his involvement in a tax fraud scheme.Todd Eugene Strand of Murrieta, Calif., pleaded guilty today in a Kansas City federal court this week. According to the government’s indictment, between June 1997 and April 2002, Strand and a trio of co-defendants -- Daniel Joel Gleason, Michael Craig Cooper and Jesse Ayala Cota -- operated a scheme to defraud the Internal Revenue Service and taxpayers.

As part of his plea, Strand admitted that beginning in November 1995 he served as co-conspirator Cooper’s right-hand man, eventually becoming Renaissance’s national marketing director in August 1999. Strand pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud and to defraud the United States in connection with the promotion of a fraudulent tax scheme. He also pleaded guilty to a separate charge of aiding and abetting mail fraud. Six other Renaissance workers have also pleaded guilty to charges.

Conconcted by Topeka, Kanas-based firm, Renaissance: The Tax People Inc., Strand marketed a program that was designed to sell illegal tax deductions through false and misleading representations. Renaissance claimed that customers could lawfully reduce their income taxes by deducting personal expenses as legitimate business expenses.

Renaissance charged customers between $300 and $1,200 to join its program, and an additional $100 monthly per package purchased. The company also promoted that the program would pay for itself through reduced federal income tax withholdings, directing customers to file amended Forms W-4 with their employers, reducing taxes withheld from their salaries, falsely inflating deductions and tax credits.

Strand admitted that he and his co-conspirators falsely assured Renaissance customers that the tax programs were legal, and said that the conspiracy defrauded Renaissance customers of more than $75 million, and caused a tax loss in excess of $20 million.

He faces a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison and three years of supervised release, along with a $500,000 fine, plus prosecution costs. Sentencing is set for January 2008.

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