Thursday, September 6, 2012

Shirley Oyer pleads guilty in tax-fraud scheme

Posted By on Thu, Sep 6, 2012 at 11:57 AM

Shirley Oyer will likely serve six months in prison.
  • Shirley Oyer will likely serve six months in prison.
Shirley Oyer, a Kansas City woman facing federal charges for her alleged role in a nationwide tax-fraud scheme, pleaded guilty Thursday morning to a single charge of filing false claims for tax refunds. Five other charges were dropped as part of the plea agreement. According to the plea, Oyer will be sentenced to six months in prison, six months of house arrest and three years of probation.

Oyer, 71, and her sons, one who claims that he's the second coming of the prophet John the Baptist, were profiled in The Pitch earlier this summer.

The fraud that Oyer was part of operated as a tax-preparation business out of a Blue Springs karate studio owned by co-defendant Gerald Poynter II, aka Brother Jerry Love. Oyer was accused of recruiting clients by telling them that they could claim tax refunds from the IRS in the amount of their total debt, including student loans and mortgages. Fourteen people from around the country were charged in the scheme, which was the largest of its kind in Missouri history.

The plea says Oyer helped at least 12 clients file fraudulent returns claiming a total of $12.4 million in refunds. The IRS paid out $94, 974 of the claims. The clients then gave Poynter's so-called ministry a 10 percent cut of their refunds. The IRS sent letters to clients who received refunds, warning them that the money was illegally claimed. Oyer, the plea says, told them that she would take care of the IRS and advised the clients on how to fight the IRS' claims about the refunds.

In The Pitch profile from June, her son John Michael — who himself was the subject of a Pitch feature last year after his pet chimp was taken by city officials — said his mother wasn't guilty. He said it doesn't make her a criminal if people asked his mother about filing these refund claims and she gave them her opinion that they could. He offered an analogy: If he was asked about putting on a homemade fireworks display, he would tell someone what he knows. However, if there's an accident, he couldn't be held responsible.

"Now you go out and do something wrong with it — somebody gets hurt, what have you, and they say, 'What would ever make you do something that ridiculous?' " he explained in the story. " 'Well, John Michael told me about it.' Then they come after me? Well, I didn't do it. That's exactly what they're doin' her [Shirley]."

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