Uncle Sam, here’s $38.8 billion. I want $9.6 billion of that back.

Tuesday’s paper headlined my story on two dentists indicted on tax fraud charges. (Here’s the PDF, but it doesn’t have all the content the web treatment does.) Sounds supremely boring, right?

That is, until you slog through a dull-as-nails 29-page indictment. Then you find juicy tidbits, such as the following details that federal prosecutors allege:

  • These men owed hundreds of thousands of dollars to the IRS
  • They tried at least twice to pay the IRS with fake money in the form of various documents (like securities)
  • Last year these fake payments totaled $38.8 billion. (Yes, that’s billion with a “B.” The next day friendly locals called our office to make sure we hadn’t made a colossal typo.) It wasn’t clear in the indictment why the dentists decided to make their “payments” so high, and I couldn’t get anything else out of the federal prosecutor’s office.
  • Shortly following the multi-billion-dollar “payments,” they asked for $9.6 billion in tax refunds.
  • Last year, while being investigated, the men wrote letters to the government claiming, among other things, they were not legally “taxpayers” or “people,” and asking for the definition of “IRS agent.”

Needless to say it made for a great headline and an interesting story if you don’t mind the hard news-format writing. We report, you decide where you think these men are coming from.

An interesting tidbit: someone on staff at our newspaper has had teeth worked on by the dentist with a Wilmington practice. How would you feel if you discovered this about your dentist?

Lastly, I had previously promised multimedia from the last DHL shift. I’ll put together a Soundslides slideshow when I have time, which should be early to mid next week.