Albemarle man pleads guilty to tax fraud

Published 3:37 pm Wednesday, April 5, 2023

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An Albemarle man pled guilty on tax fraud charges in federal court in Winston-Salem Wednesday.

According to a release from Sandra J. Hairston, the U.S. Attorney for the Middle District of North Carolina, Michael Todd Forrest plead guilty Wednesday to filing a false tax return.

The charge has a potential maximum sentence of three years in federal prison.

Hairston’s office investigated Forrest for violating Title 26 of the United States Code for withholding information from a tax return preparer in terms of business-related income.

Forrest operated The Forrest Fence Company, according to court documents, where he would “routinely direct customers to make checks payable to him instead of the business.”

The release stated Forrest took those checks and deposited them into a personal bank account, resulting in a tax loss of more than $200,000.

“To attempt to evade taxes by hiding income and filing false returns, is a theft from the American public. It is a felony offense that carries severe consequences,” said Donald “Trey” Eakins, special agent in charge, IRS Criminal Investigation, Charlotte Field Office. “The overarching principle of IRS’s enforcement strategy is simply this: We protect the integrity of the tax system by ensuring everyone pays their fair share of tax.”

Forrest is scheduled to be sentenced before U.S. District Judge Thomas D. Schroeder, who also accepted the plea.

Sentencing is scheduled to take place at 9:30 a.m. Aug. 14 in Winston-Salem, courtroom number 2. At sentencing, Forrest faces a maximum sentence of three years in prison, a period of supervised release of up to one year and monetary penalties.

The release also stated, “IRS-Criminal Investigation is investigating the case and Assistant U.S. Attorney Ashley Waid is prosecuting the case.”

Doug Kingsbery, an attorney with Raleigh law firm Tharrington Smith, spoke by phone to the Stanly News & Press on Forrest’s behalf.

Kingsbery said Forrest “is terribly sorry for what happened” and that he “is working very hard right now to make sure that whatever taxes are owed are going to be paid in full as quickly as possible.”

About Charles Curcio

Charles Curcio has served as the sports editor of the Stanly News & Press for more than 16 years and has written numerous news and feature storeis as well. He was awarded the NCHSAA Tim Stevens Media Representative of the Year and named CNHI Sports Editor of the Year in 2014. He has also won an award from Boone Newspapers, and has won four North Carolina Press Association awards.

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