KC man admits role in $96 million tax fraud scheme

A Kansas City man pleaded guilty Thursday to organizing a conspiracy that filed 284 fraudulent tax returns seeking $96 million in refunds.

Gerald A. Poynter II, who also went by the name “Brother Jerry Love,” admitted at a hearing in Kansas City federal court that he recruited 44 others to help in the scheme. Poynter agreed to pay almost $1 million in restitution.

The Internal Revenue Service denied most of the claims but paid out about $3.5 million.

In September 2011, prosecutors charged Poynter and 13 others in what prosecutors described as the largest false tax claims ever prosecuted in Missouri.

According to the charges, Poynter and his partners drew clients into the scheme from 2008 to 2011 by promising them they could “recoup” their debts by allowing the group to prepare their tax returns. The conspirators prepared returns showing that their clients were due enormous refunds — in some cases almost $1 million — from taxes withheld from interest income.

Once the refunds flowed in, the conspirators kept some of the money and then shared it with Jerry Love Ministries as a “love donation,” according to the indictment.

At a December 2008 seminar in Atlanta, Poynter boasted that the IRS would issue the refunds even if the name listed on tax forms were SpongeBob SquarePants or Spider-Man, Poynter acknowledged Thursday.

And Poynter agreed in a court filing that he had foreseen the eventual outcome of the scheme.

“He also joked that his going to prison was a possibility,” the filing said.

A judge set Poynter’s sentencing for March 13.