A Bradenton man convicted of running a tax fraud scheme has been sentenced to 10 years in federal prison.
Joseph Nelson Sweet, 66, was found guilty in March of four charges related to the scheme, including two counts of contempt, according to a news release from the U.S. attorney's office in Tampa.
Prosecutors said the scheme cost taxpayers more than $3.8 million.
According to court documents and testimony at trial, Sweet began marketing and selling tax-defier materials in the mid-1990's.
He and co-conspirator Jack Lee Malone starting in 1999 sold and promoted a scheme by which they claimed that purchasers could legally avoid the payment of federal income taxes by, among other things, placing income and assets in "sham" trusts called Unincorporated Business Trust Organizations (UBTOs), according to the news release.
They sold these trusts and other materials through two of their own UBTOs, "The JoYFoundation" and "EDM Enterprises."
Further, Sweet and Malone instructed their clients that income generally is not taxable and that filing a federal income tax return is a strictly voluntary act. The evidence also established that Sweet and Malone instructed clients to submit obstructive paperwork or otherwise deceive the IRS and to illegally conceal their income and assets, according to the news release.
At trial, records of The JoY Foundation showed that Sweet and Malone had recruited more than 1,300 members across the nation.