Sacramento, California - John A. Crosby, 56, of Redding; Ines S. Crosby, 76, of Orland; and Leslie A. Lohse, 64, of Glenn, pleaded guilty Thursday to conspiracy to embezzle or steal from a tribal organization, as well as tax fraud and tax evasion offenses, Acting U.S. Attorney Phillip A. Talbert announced.
“The defendants used the Tribe’s accounts as their personal piggy banks,” said Kareem Carter, Special Agent in Charge, IRS Criminal Investigation. “For at least five years the defendants took more than $4.9 million of the Tribe’s money and intentionally failed to declare it as income to the IRS. This resulted in a tax loss of over $1.6 million.”
“This case sends a clear message that no one is above the law and tribal accounts cannot be used for personal gain, regardless of their perceived influence on the success of tribal business. These individuals diverted millions from tribal accounts-funds intended to help tribal members-- for extravagant, unapproved travel and personal luxuries,” said Special Agent in Charge Sean Ragan of the FBI Sacramento Field Office. “This case is a result of successful collaboration with IRS Criminal Investigation. The FBI is committed to working with our state, local and federal partners to conduct thorough investigations to ensure all who violate the law are held accountable for their actions.”
According to court documents, from approximately January 2009 through May 2014, the defendants took millions of dollars from the Paskenta Tribe of Nomlaki Indians without tribal or legal authority, taking advantage of their positions on the Tribal Counsel and in prominent leadership positions in the tribe. The defendants used this money to buy homes, vehicles, luxury vacations (including trips to Africa, South America, and Hawaii, as well as private and chartered jet travel), high-value entertainment (such as a trip to the World Series), familial expenses, and precious metals. John Crosby and Leslie Lohse did not declare these amounts on their respective tax returns as income, while Ines Crosby failed to file tax returns every year since at least 2010. All three individuals then took a series of steps to attempt to conceal their actions: they created a written employment agreement in 2014 that appeared to be from 2001 and authorized their use of funds, and then told federal investigators that the document was from 2001, knowing at the time that that was not true.
This case is the product of an investigation by the Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigation and Federal Bureau of Investigation. Assistant U.S. Attorney Matthew M. Yelovich is prosecuting the case.
All three defendants are scheduled to be sentenced by U.S. District Judge Morrison C. England Jr. on Jan. 30, 2020. The defendants face a maximum statutory penalty of five years in prison and a $250,000 fine for the conspiracy count. John Crosby and Leslie Lohse face a statutory maximum of three years in prison and $100,000 fine for their respective tax fraud counts, and Ines Crosby faces a statutory maximum of one year in prison and a $25,000 fine for her failure to file count. The actual sentences, however, will be determined at the discretion of the court after consideration of any applicable statutory factors and the Federal Sentencing Guidelines, which take into account a number of variables.