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Nixa optometrist convicted of tax evasion

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A Nixa optometrist was convicted July 20 by a federal jury of income tax evasion and several other crimes, according to a news release from Beth Phillips, U.S. attorney for the Western District of Missouri.

Leslie Robert MacLaren, 61, was found guilty of nine counts contained in a federal indictment, including five counts related to concealing income and assets in an effort to evade taxation.

The hidden assets - equating to roughly $161,773 - included a three-story house in Nixa, which MacLauren titled in his mother's name, and three vehicles - a Mitsubishi Eclipse, a Porsche 924 and a Lincoln Continental - purchased and titled under the name of a fictitious company, according to the release.

MacLaren also was convicted of two counts of bankruptcy fraud, one count of submitting a false claim to the U.S. and one count of obstructing administration of internal revenue laws.

After filing a fraudulent bankruptcy petition, MacLaren in May 2003 obtained a bankruptcy discharge of his debts, including more than $117,000 owed for federal and Missouri state taxes. In the petition, MacLaren under-reported his gross income by more than $3,000 per month, and he falsely claimed that payroll taxes and Social Security payment had been deducted from his pay. He also did not report the Nixa home and a vehicle titled under nonexistent company Dioptrics Limited, the release said.

After being audited by the IRS, MacLaren filed a lawsuit against the body, naming various IRS agents involved in the criminal investigation of his conduct. In the lawsuit - which was eventually dismissed - he claimed $1.1 million in damages. After being indicted, MacLaren filed an additional federal income tax return attempting to claim a $40 million refund.

After a trial that began July 18, a U.S. District Court in Springfield deliberated for a little more than an hour before returning the guilty verdict.

Under federal statutes, MacLaren could face up to five years in federal prison without parole and a fine of up to $250,000.

A sentencing hearing will be scheduled following a presentence investigation by the U.S. Probation Office.[[In-content Ad]]


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