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Wood Lake couple sentenced for not paying taxes

GRANITE FALLS -- A husband and wife accused of not paying income taxes on compensation totaling $571,379 through the years 2002-2007 were sentenced after pleading guilty on July 30 to gross misdemeanor and misdemeanor charges.

Robert James Cunningham, 43, of Wood Lake, pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor count of failing to file a tax return and a gross misdemeanor count of failure to pay or collect taxes in district court in Granite Falls.

The court sentenced him to one year in prison on the gross misdemeanor charge, but stayed execution of the sentence for five years provided he serve supervised probation, pay fines and fees of $585, and make restitution as to be deter-mined. The court sentenced him to one year in jail on the lesser charge, but stayed execution and allowed that it be served concurrent with the other sentence.

Ann Marie Cunningham, 43, of Wood Lake, pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor charge of failure to file a tax return. The court withheld adjudication of the charge and ordered her to serve one year of probation that requires she pay $85 in fines and fees and make restitution as to be determined.

The original complaint charges that Robert Cunningham had not paid taxes during the years 2002-2007 while receiv-ing compensation from two different trucking firms and a farmer's cooperative. It alleges that he provided his mother's social security number to one of the employers and no social security number to another during this time.

An investigation was launched when the defendant's mother contacted the Yellow Medicine County Sheriff's De-partment. She reported that the Internal Revenue Service had contacted her and said records showed she had not paid taxes on compensation of $133,756.56 received from a trucking firm in 2006 and 2007. She learned that her son had earned that amount of compensation from the trucking firm while using her social security number on his employee form.

She told investigators that he had used her social security number in the 1990's. When contacted by her about the most recent IRS report, the mother told authorities that he told her that he "did not pay taxes and never will."

The complaint charges that the Minnesota Department of Revenue calculated that the Cunninghams owe $43,847.72 in taxes, penalties and interest for the years 2002-2007.

Tom Cherveny

Tom Cherveny is a regional and outdoor reporter with the West Central Tribune in Willmar, MN.

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