A jury rejected Wednesday what a federal agent described as “mumbo jumbo” from a woman accused of falsely claiming $3 million in federal tax refunds.
Witnesses at the three-day trial in U.S. District Court said Nancy Cicero, 69, of Kirkwood, lied on 2005-2008 returns filed in 2009, using fake 1099 forms to seek refunds for taxes she claimed to have paid on bond income.
Cicero, who represented herself, is an adherent of a widely discredited theory that claims those with knowledge of the proper procedures can tap into hundreds of millions of dollars held in trust in their names by the U.S. government.
The “straw buyer redemption theory” says the money is available because the government went off the gold standard and began using people, or “straw men,” as collateral, Assistant U.S. Attorney Dianna Collins told jurors.
Special Agent Stacy Decker of the Internal Revenue Service characterized it in testimony Tuesday as “a lot of mumbo jumbo that makes no sense.” She also said she warned Cicero that “federal courts have consistently ruled that the arguments raised by you are frivolous.”
Cicero also claimed to not be a U.S. citizen and not subject to U.S. law, according to court filings.
Jurors took less than an hour to find Cicero guilty on four felony counts of filing false tax returns. She also had been charged with three felony counts of filing fraudulent documents for bogus financial instruments she claimed to be worth $450 million. U.S. District Judge John Ross dismissed those counts.
Cicero made no real opening statement or closing argument, and asked no questions of witnesses.
In a typical exchange, Ross asked if she had any objection to the admission of her tax returns, and she seemed to say both yes and no: “I object. It is not my wish. Let the record show it is my wish,” she replied.
Collins told jurors in opening statements that Cicero became “acquainted” with a New Jersey group, the Mid-Atlantic Trustees and Administrators, or MATA, in 2007. MATA promoted the bogus bonds and other documents, grossing over $3.5 million from those interested in the theories. It also netted their own criminal convictions and sentences.
Cicero had been warned, Collins told jurors, but repeatedly filed or mailed the bonds and other documents.
Just a few months before trial, Cicero sent a document claiming to be worth $24 million to satisfy any taxes she owed from 2005-2008, Collins said.
Cicero declined a reporter's request for an interview during jury deliberations, saying she would like to talk but would not, or could not, for months. Ross ordered her taken into custody after the verdict. She could face years in prison.
She told court staff after her arrest in September that she has never been formally employed, and pays a mortgage on her 3,800-square-foot home and expenses with Social Security, “help from friends” and an ex-husband.