Televangelist Needs His Own Miracle after IRS Indictment

Todd Coontz, a North Carolina televangelist was indicted on charges of tax fraud for non-payment of income taxes for a 10 year period as well as filing false returns for 2010 through 2013. The amount of the tax liability owing is more than $326,000.

Coontz, who “promised financial miracles for people who sent money to his ministry” with such claims as “You need to plant the $273 recovery seed.  I’m only going to give you two or three minutes to respond.”

Coontz also purchased a 2011 BMW, a 2011 Regal 2500 boat, a 2012 BMW convertible, a 2011 Lexus, a 2011 Land Rover, a 2006 Ferrari, a 2012 Maserati, a 2013 BMW,  a 2013 Land Rover and a 2012 Ferrari with funds through his corporation.  The payments for these vehicles were treated as business expenses on the corporation and ministry’s accounting records even though they were driven by family members and no records were kept about the business use of the cars.

The ministry also purchased a $1.5 million condominium and claimed $200,000 for clothing purchases as a business expense.

The indictment also states that Coontz hid income from the IRS by claiming travel as a business expense while at the same time, receiving travel reimbursement that he kept as personal income, and billing the church for first-class airfare that he did not actually purchase.

Coontz could face up to 15 years in prison if convicted on all counts.

‘Everything is Not Coming up Roses’ for Flower Shop Owner

Adrian Benitez and Jose Ramirez, co-owners of a Great Neck, NY flower business, pled guilty in U.S. District Court to charges of corruptly endeavoring to obstruct and impede the internal revenue laws.

Between 2007 and 2012, the pair diverted more than $1 million in sales to their personal bank accounts instead of their business account.  They directed their customers to pay in cash, or had them pay with a check made payable to cash or themselves personally.  Benitez and Ramirez hid these assets from their tax preparer so the returns filed did not disclose any of the funds they diverted on both their personal and business income tax returns.  The loss to the IRS is approximately $235,805.

No sentencing date has been set, but Benitez and Ramirez each face a maximum sentence of three years in prison, a period of supervised release, restitution and monetary penalties.