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Federal Judge Sentences Columbia, S.C. Attorney for Making a False Statement to a Federal Agent

SEP 24 (COLUMBIA, S.C.) - On Tuesday, September 23, 2014, U.S. District Judge Margaret B. Seymour sentenced Joenathan Shelly Chaplin, an attorney in Columbia, S.C. to three years of probation for making a false statement to a federal agent, announced Anne M. Tompkins, U.S. Attorney for the Western District of North Carolina.  Judge Seymour ordered Chaplin to spend the first six months of his probationary sentence in home confinement with electronic monitoring and to pay a $100 assessment fee.

Thomas J. Holloman III, Special Agent in Charge of the Internal Revenue Service, Criminal Investigation Division (IRS-CI); John S. Comer, Acting Special Agent in Charge of the Atlanta Field Division of the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) which overseas South Carolina; and Wayne L. Dixie, Special Agent in Charge of the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), join U.S. Attorney Tompkins in making today’s announcement.

According to court documents and yesterday’s sentencing hearing, Chaplin, 47, admitted to knowingly and willfully making a materially false, fictitious, and fraudulent statement and representation to the government.  According to court records, Chaplin’s false statements to federal agents occurred when he was questioned in relation to a drug and firearm investigation.  Court records show that during that investigation, it was determined that Chaplin was directing his criminal defendant clients to pay his fees in a structured manner to avoid reporting those payments to the IRS.  When questioned about this practice Chaplin lied to federal investigators.
Court records indicate that Chaplin also told an IRS agent that he was not aware of the reporting requirements of IRS’s Form 8300, which is a “Report of Cash Payments Over $10,000 Received in a Trade or Business” and must be filed with the IRS if a person or business has received over $10,000 in one transaction or a series of related transactions while conducting their trade or business. 

The case was investigated by IRS-CI, DEA and ATF.  The prosecution was handled by Assistant U.S. Attorney Jill Westmoreland Rose of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Western District of North Carolina in Charlotte, upon recusal of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of South Carolina.

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