Knoxville couple sentenced for stealing $10.8 million in income tax scheme

KNOXVILLE (WATE) – A Knoxville couple has been sentenced to prison terms for stealing more than $10.8 million from U.S. taxpayers as part of an income tax scheme.

Bertha Del Pilar Vargas, 48, was sentenced to 34 months in federal prison while her husband, Martin Ayala, 45, was sentenced to 37 months. Both were ordered to forfeit more than $40,000 in currency seized by federal investigators and a money judgment of $2.4 million.

United States District Attorney Nancy Stallard Harr’s office says the two pleaded guilty in June to conspiracy to defraud the United State through the submission of federal income tax returns and conspiracy to commit money laundering. Harr says they took part in a scheme to use phony identification documents to submit fraudulent income tax returns to obtain tax refunds.


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