A woman convicted of tax evasion

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An Oxford Junction woman was sentenced on September 27 to 18 months in federal prison for tax evasion. Penny Lane Witt, 48, was also ordered to serve three years on probation and pay $75,849 in restitution to the Internal Revenue Service.

According to court documents, in 2015 Witt operated businesses under the names Ultimate Tree Service and Spruces Tree Service. An employee approached a person in Iowa City to prune trees. After the initial project in 2016 and 2017, Witt and other employees returned to this residence, and the same person paid by check for several renovation and landscaping projects. Witt kept no business records, had no business or individual bank accounts, and made all business and salary expenses in cash. Witt admitted that in receiving checks and cash payments from the individual, his affirmative acts of personally and voluntarily cashing those checks at the client’s bank and not depositing any of those checks or cash on a bank account, she concealed any customary record of the gross income she received and attempted to evade federal income tax assessment. These payments included work not fully completed. In 2016 and 2017, she received approximately $469,000 in payments. Witt admitted that she knew she had a legal obligation to file tax returns for those years and deliberately chose not to file.

“Ms. Witt took advantage of a vulnerable person and defrauded them of hundreds of thousands of dollars,” Acting Special Agent in Charge Charles Miller said, “IRS Criminal Investigation Acknowledges Presence of Fraud Targeting Older and Older Americans we will continue to fight these crimes and hold responsible parties accountable for their actions.

U.S. Attorney Richard D. Westphal for the Southern District of Iowa made the announcement. The Internal Revenue Service-Criminal Investigations Division and the Iowa City Police Department investigated the case.

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