An Oxford Junction woman was sentenced on September 27 to 18 months in federal prison for tax evasion. Penny Lane Witt, age 48, was also ordered to serve three years of supervised release and pay $75,849 in restitution to the Internal Revenue Service.
According to court documents, in 2015, Witt operated businesses under the names of Ultimate Tree Service and Spruces Tree Service. An employee approached an individual in Iowa City about trimming some trees. After the initial project in 2016 and 2017, Witt and other employees returned to this residence and the same individual paid by check for multiple remodeling and landscaping projects. Witt did not keep business records, did not have business or individual bank accounts and conducted all business and payroll expenses in cash. Witt admitted that by receiving checks and cash payments from the individual, her affirmative acts of personally and willfully cashing these checks at the customer’s bank and not depositing any of these checks or cash in a bank account, she concealed any usual record of the gross income she received and attempted to evade the assessment of federal income tax. These payments included work not fully completed. In 2016 and 2017, she received approximately $469,000 in payments. Witt admitted that she knew she had a legal duty to file tax returns for those years and willfully chose not to file.
“Ms. Witt took advantage of a vulnerable person and cheated them out of hundreds of thousands of dollars,” said Acting Special Agent in Charge Charles Miller, “IRS Criminal Investigation recognizes the presence of fraud targeting elder Americans and we will continue to combat these crimes and hold the responsible parties accountable for their actions.”
U.S. Attorney Richard D. Westphal of the Southern District of Iowa made the announcement. The Internal Revenue Service-Criminal Investigations Division and the Iowa City Police Department investigated this case.