That friendly face seen behind the counter at the St. John office of the V.I. Internal Revenue Bureau for years is facing a criminal trial.
Long-time St. John IRB supervisor Nealia Sprauve was indicted by a grand jury in June along with St. John business owner Joseph Clendinen Sr. on one combined charge of conspiracy to evade taxes.
Sprauve was fired from IRB in July for issuing tax clearance letters to 304 delinquent business owners, according to the report in the V.I. Daily News.
Although issuing tax clearance letters was outside of her scope of duties, an IRB internal investigation found that Sprauve issued 462 tax clearance letters from January 2007 to April 2011, with most of those going to delinquent taxpayers.
In order to renew a business license, a business owner needs a tax clearance letter, which is supposed to ensure that businesses are paying their fair share of taxes. Apparently that was not a difficult process to side-step on St. John.
Clendinen is the owner of JC Security Services, which was contracted by V.I. Port Authority to provide security at St. Thomas and St. John ports.
Every two weeks, VIPA paid Clendinen by check — which he would cash and then conceal the income by paying employees under the table, according to the report in the V.I. Daily News.
Sprauve faces five counts of fraud by an IRB employee and Clendinen is facing three counts of attempting to evade or defeat a tax for the years 2006 through 2008.
Prosecutors allege that Clendinen filed false income tax statements from 2006 through 2008 which under-reported his earning by $623,541, according to the Daily News report. He is charged with conspiracy to evade and of evading at least $89,310 in taxes.
A trial for the two was set to begin on Monday, October 17, in U.S. District Court, but that date was pushed back after prosecutors filed 69 pages of new evidence, according to the report.
The new evidence includes Clendinen’s tax returns from 2006 through 2008, according to court documents.
U.S. District Court Judge Curtis Gomez denied federal public defender Thurston McKelvin’s motion to strike the evidence, but did rule to continue the case until 2 p.m. on November 14 in light of the new material, according to the V.I. Daily News report.