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Lawrenceville couple sentenced for dodging IRS

ATLANTA -- A man and wife who dodged the Internal Revenue Service for several years were sentenced Thursday to nearly 10 years combined in federal prison.

Stephen Paul Thomas, 46, and Patricia Denese Anderson, 51, of Lawrenceville were convicted in October of conspiring to defraud the United States and making false claims to the IRS, according to a news release from U.S. Attorney Sally Quillian Yates.

Thomas and Anderson claimed to not be U.S. citizens and therefore exempt from paying taxes, then sought more than $420,000 in false refunds.

Thomas was sentenced to serve five years in federal prison and Anderson was sentenced to four years and three months. They were each fined $10,000.

"They cheated not only the government, but their fellow taxpayers," Yates said. "The sentence in this case demonstrates that those who defy the tax laws by obstructing the IRS and filing false and frivolous tax returns will be prosecuted and punished for their conduct."

Among the information presented against Thomas and Anderson in court, Yates said, was they were married and jointly owned and operated an outdoor yard furnishing store and general contracting business in Duluth, but stopped filing federal income tax returns in the 1990s.

The couple then hired American Rights Litigators, an organization that sold and promoted tax defiance schemes, to send obstructive and harassing materials to the IRS on their behalf.

The couple also sent documents to the IRS that said they were not U.S. citizens, but "American citizens," and not subject to federal income tax laws, Yates said.