A federal grand jury in Charleston has returned an indictment charging a Pineville man with willful failure to pay over employment taxes and obstructing the Internal Revenue Service’s collection efforts.
According to the indictment, Christopher J. Smyth operated Wyoming County’s Best Ambulance Service Inc., Stat Ambulance Service Inc., and Stat EMS LLC, all of which provided ambulance services in Wyoming County.
Stat EMS LLC also operates in neighboring McDowell County and Mercer County, according to the company’s Facebook page.
Smyth allegedly was responsible for collecting and paying over to the IRS employment taxes withheld from the wages of the three companies’ employees, according to court records. Even though he allegedly withheld these funds from the wages of Stat Ambulance Service’s employees, Smyth did not pay to the IRS the full employee withholdings or the full employer’s share, according to a statement issued Wednesday by the United States Department of Justice.
After the IRS imposed penalties against Smyth for not paying over these funds, he allegedly stopped operating Stat Ambulance Service and created Stat EMS in the name of a nominee owner. Smyth nonetheless allegedly continued operating the new ambulance business in the same manner as the previous company and did not pay over to the IRS all of the employment taxes owed on behalf of the employees of Stat EMS, federal court officials said in their press release.
After the IRS attempted to collect the unpaid employment taxes for Stat EMS as well as the resulting penalties, Smyth allegedly attempted to obstruct the IRS’s efforts by making false and misleading statements, according to court records. Specifically, the indictment charges that Smyth stated that he did not own Stat EMS and did not have a personal bank account. To further obstruct the IRS’s collection efforts, Smyth allegedly paid personal expenses from Stat EMS’s business bank accounts, transferred funds from Stat EMS to bank accounts he controlled, and diverted his own paychecks into a bank account titled in the name of another person.
Smyth will be scheduled to make his initial court appearance before the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of West Virginia at a future date. If convicted, Smyth faces a maximum sentence of five years in prison for each of four counts of willful failure to pay over employment taxes and three years in prison for obstructing the IRS. A federal district court judge will determine any sentence after considering the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.
Acting Deputy Assistant Attorney General Stuart M. Goldberg of the Justice Department’s Tax Division and U.S. Attorney William S. Thompson for the Southern District of West Virginia made the announcement.
IRS-Criminal Investigation is investigating the case.
Trial attorneys Alexander Effendi and Andrew Ascencio of the Tax Division and Assistant U.S. Attorney Erik Goes for the Southern District of West Virginia are prosecuting the case.