FLAT ROCK, N.C. (WNCN) — A North Carolina man with at least seven known co-conspirators is facing punishment for a major fraud scheme that was carried out over the span of 12 years.
Walter “Terry” Douglas Roberts II, of Flat Rock, admitted to the scheme in which he became a licensed appraiser in 2007 and proceeded to intentionally “inflate values of conservation easements” on which tax deductions were based.
Roberts said that he even inflated some appraisals by “at least 600%.” From 2007-2019, he inflated the appraisals of 18 conservation easements, according to a release from the U.S. Department of Justice.
In these processes, Roberts would make false statements and either personally manipulate data or rely on knowingly manipulated data to reach a targeted appraisal value. These would, in turn, result in a “desired tax deduction amount,” according to the DOJ.
Across the 18 easement appraisals, more than $466 million in tax deductions were claimed, resulting in a loss to the IRS of more than $129 million. The work of Roberts and his co-conspirators also involved inflated charitable contribution deductions, making the total of fraudulent tax breaks exceed $1.3 billion, the DOJ said.
On Tuesday, U.S. District Judge Timothy C. Batten sentenced Roberts to 12 months in prison in addition to three years of supervised release, a required 120 hours of community service and the payment of $129,210,760 in restitution to the United States.
Two co-conspirators of his, Jack Fisher and James Sinnott, were convicted in the scheme at trial and are still awaiting sentencing. At least another five co-conspirators have come forward and pleaded guilty to criminal conduct related to Fisher’s syndicated conservation easement tax shelters as well, the DOJ said.