Connecticut couple charged with evading taxes for 18 years

A husband and wife from Brooklyn, Conn., have been charged by federal prosecutors with conspiracy to defraud the Internal Revenue Service and four counts of tax evasion.

The government said John and Sandra Cote have not filed a timely or valid tax return since 1994.

Both were indicted by a federal grand jury on Dec. 18. Sandra Cote was arrested Jan. 9 in Providence and John Cote was arrested Thursday in Miami, where he made his initial court appearance on Friday.

John Cote worked as a consultant in the high-tech welding industry and was paid as a contractor for that work, the government said. The government determined Cote's income based on IRS form 1099s he filed in 1995 and 1996.

According to the indictment, the Cotes responded to IRS efforts to assess and collect taxes for those years by concealing income and assets from the government and by submitting obstructive letters and other documents, including fake financial instruments and false criminal complaints against IRS employees.

For 1998 through 2009, the Cotes allegedly prevented the companies for which John Cote consulted from filing Form 1099s bearing his Social Security number with the IRS and had the companies send his pay to nominee, or intermediary, bank accounts, including accounts in Costa Rica, Antigua and Sweden.

The Cotes also used a nominee entity called "Sandra Cote, Overseer of God's Battery Ministry, and Her Successors, a Corporation Sole ((ASTERISK)an unincorporated Altruistic Spiritual Order)" to conceal income and assets from the IRS, the government said. In 2003, Sandra Cote conveyed their home to the entity.

If convicted, the Cotes face up to 25 years in prison and fines of up to $1,250,000.



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