Los Banos Trucking Company Owners Convicted of Tax and
OCT 04 -- FRESNO, Calif. — United States Attorney Benjamin B. Wagner today that the co-owners of Lasher Brothers Trucking Company Inc., based in Los Banos, pleaded guilty today before United States District Judge Anthony W. Ishii to a conspiracy to avoid paying taxes. Kulwant Lasher, 53, entered a guilty plea to conspiring to bribe an Internal Revenue Service (IRS) Revenue Officer and to fail to account for and pay employee withholding and Federal Insurance Contributions Act or FICA taxes, consisting of Social Security and Medicare payroll or employment taxes. Tarlochan Lasher, 55, entered a guilty plea to conspiring to account for and pay employee withholding and FICA taxes.
This case is a product of an Organized Crime and Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF) effort. OCDETF is an interagency program that investigates and prosecutes the most significant drug trafficking and money laundering organizations throughout the U.S. by leveraging the combined expertise of federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies. OCDETF task force members in this case included the Internal Revenue Service, the Treasury Inspector General of Tax Administration (TIGTA), and the Drug Enforcement Administration. The case originally arose out of a joint DEA and California Department of Justice Bureau of Narcotic Enforcement (BNE) OCDETF investigation of Sergio Reynol Padilla, 43, of Merced, who earlier this year was sentenced to 262 months for a drug trafficking and money laundering conspiracy. The money laundering portion of the conspiracy involved the laundering of $100,000 in proceeds obtained from Padilla’s drug trafficking activities through the accounts of Lasher Brothers Trucking Company. Assistant United States Attorney Karen A. Escobar is prosecuting both the Lasher and Padilla cases.
According to their guilty pleas, Kulwant and Tarlochan Lasher admitted that as corporate officers and owners of Lasher Brothers Trucking Company Inc., they conspired to fail to account for and pay employee withholding and FICA taxes for tax years 2003 through 2007. Kulwant Lasher also acknowledged that in October, 2007, he engaged in a scheme to bribe an IRS Revenue officer to abate Lasher Brothers Trucking Company’s tax liability. In pleading guilty, both Tarlochan and Kulwant Lasher acknowledged during the bribery scheme that Lasher Brothers Trucking owed the IRS $2.4 million in back payroll taxes, penalties and interest. According to TIGTA, the case is the largest in the United States involving the bribery of a revenue officer.
With respect to the bribery conduct, Kulwant Lasher admitted that he had offered to pay an undercover IRS revenue officer $600,000 in cash to eliminate the company’s $2.4 million tax liability. As part of the bribery scheme, Kulwant Lasher met the revenue officer at a restaurant and gas station, paid him $56,500 in cash, and handed over his 2003 BMW 745L and a quitclaim deed for his residence in Los Banos. Immediately, after delivering his BMW to the revenue officer, Kulwant Lasher called a BMW dealership in Fresno and asked to be picked up because he wanted to buy a new BMW. When asked about a $747,000 tax lien on his credit record, Kulwant Lasher, knowing of his tax liability to the IRS, told the salesman that he had already paid it. Kulwant Lasher then purchased a brand new 745 BMW for approximately $95,000.
The Lasher brothers are scheduled for sentencing on December 13, 2010 at 9:00 a.m. Judge Ishii ordered Kulwant Lasher to remain detained as a flight risk and a danger to the community. Earlier this year, Kulwant Lasher was detained following conviction by a jury in Santa Clara County for bribing a city official in connection with his taxicab business in that county. That bribery occurred while Kulwant Lasher was on federal supervised release in the Eastern District of California for the charges in this case.
Kulwant Lasher faces a maximum prison term of 15 years and a maximum fine of $250,000. Tarlochan Lasher faces a maximum prison term of five years and a maximum fine of $10,000. Both have agreed to file and pay all personal and corporate tax returns and pay all personal and corporate taxes, including penalties and interest, owed by them and their trucking company.
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