Husband and wife John and Sandra Cote, both of Brooklyn, Conn., were arrested on tax charges, the Justice Department and Internal Revenue Service (IRS) announced today. On Dec. 18, 2012, a federal grand jury in New Haven, Conn., returned an indictment charging the Cotes with conspiracy to defraud the IRS and four counts of tax evasion. Sandra Cote was arrested and appeared in court on Jan. 9, 2013, in Providence, R.I. John Cote was arrested Jan. 10, 2013, and his initial appearance in court took place today in Miami.
According to the indictment, the Cotes had not filed a timely or valid tax return since 1994, despite earning income from John Cote’s work as a consultant in the high technology welding industry. The IRS assessed John Cote’s unpaid 1995-1996 taxes based on Forms 1099-MISC. Per the indictment, the Cotes responded to IRS efforts to assess and collect taxes for these years by concealing income and assets from the government and by submitting obstructive letters and other documents, including fake financial instruments and false criminal complaints against IRS employees. For the years 1998-2009, the Cotes allegedly prevented the companies for which John Cote consulted from filing Forms 1099 bearing his Social Security Number with the IRS and caused these companies to pay his compensation to nominee bank accounts, including accounts in Costa Rica, Antigua and Sweden. The Cotes also used a nominee entity called “Sandra Cote, Overseer of God's Battery Ministry, and Her Successors, a Corporation Sole (*an unincorporated Altruistic Spiritual Order)” to conceal income and assets from the IRS. In 2003, Sandra Cote conveyed their personal residence to this entity.
An indictment merely alleges that crimes have been committed and the defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. If convicted on all counts, the Cotes face a maximum potential sentence of 25 years in prison and fines of up to $1,250,000.
This case was investigated by special agents of IRS - Criminal Investigation. Trial Attorneys Melissa Siskind and Jeff McLellan of the Justice Department’s Tax Division are prosecuting the case.