Hopkinton man to serve 15 months in federal prison for tax fraud, violation of Clean Water Act

Randy Less also ordered to pay $10,000 fine

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CEDAR RAPIDS — A Hopkinton man was sentenced Wednesday to 15 months in federal prison for failing to pay employment taxes to the Internal Revenue Service and violating the Clean Water Act by causing the discharge of ethanol into a tributary of the Maquoketa River. 

Randy Less pleaded last year in U.S. District Court to one count of willfully failing to account for and pay employment taxes and one count of violating the Clean Water Act. During the plea hearing, Less, the majority owner, a general partner and the general manager of Permeate Refining Inc., of Hopkinton, admitted he was responsible for collecting, accounting for and paying IRS federal employment, Social Security and Medicare taxes withheld from his employees’ wages.

U.S. District Chief Judge Leonard Strand at sentencing ruled Less was responsible for $654,921 in tax loss to the government during a period from 2009 through 2012.

Not paying these taxes was an “attempt to dodge his obligations” to his employees and the government, Acting U.S. Attorney Sean Berry said in a statement Wednesday. “Our system and our citizens depend upon employers like Mr. Less to be honest and pay what they owe in employment taxes,” he added.

Less, during the hearing, also admitted he knowingly discharged or caused to be discharged ethanol into the river without a permit in July 2013.

Assistant Special Agent Justin Oesterreich of U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s criminal enforcement program in Iowa said in a statement that illegal discharges of wastewater without a permit into rivers and streams “threaten public health, wildlife and water quality.”  

Enforcement of the water laws is an important way EPA safeguards the health of communities and ensures a “level playing field” for businesses that follow the rules, Oesterreich pointed out.

Judge Strand also ordered Less to pay a fine of $10,000, as well as $8,673 for costs of prosecution.

l Comments: (319) 398-8318; trish.mehaffey@thegazette.com

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