Update: Claremont couple used soldier sons for tax fraud scheme
Updated: Apr 5
A Claremont couple is charged with creating fake tax returns in the name of their adult sons, and then collecting more than $36,000 in refunds while the sons were deployed overseas while serving in the military.
William Cote, 49, pleaded guilty on Monday to a federal felony charge of consiracy for his role in the tax fraud scheme. His wife, Kelly Cote, 52, pleaded guilty on March 24 to one felony count of conspiracy for hers. William Cote is currently serving a state prison sentence for a sexual assault conviction and he appeared in the United States District Court in Concord via video.
“Knowingly submitting a fraudulent tax return is a serious federal felony offense,” said Acting U.S. Attorney John Farley in a statement. “These defendants not only submitted false claims for tax refunds, but supplemented their efforts using lies and a forged document to further their scheme."
Kelly Cote appeared via video for the hearing for her hearing. Assistant United States Attorney Matthew Hunter said Kelly Cote is dealing with health issues, and it makes sense to offer the plea agreement to resolve the case. Under the terms of the deal, she has been offered three year’s probation and six months of home confinement for her guilty plea. Both William Cote and Kelly Cote have sentencing hearings set for later this summer.
According to court records, Kelly Cote and William Cote created false tax returns for her biological sons, and his step sons, from 2012 through to 2016. The first fake return was created for one son known as J.E., and the others were created for a son referred to as T.E. There is no indication the sons were aware of the scheme, according to the court records.
The Cote’s listed one of the son’s as head of household in order to maximize the refund. When they were audited in 2016, William Cote reportedly impersonated his step son, T.E., while speaking to an IRS auditor, according to the complaint filed in court. The couple even faked a lease agreement for the son and sent that to the IRS as part of the audit, according to the complaint.
While Kelly Cote is free pending her sentencing hearing set for June 20, William Cote is in the New Hampshire Northern Correctional Facility in Berlin serving a 10 to 20 year sentence for a 2017 sexual assault conviction. Any prison time imposed as part of the federal conspiracy plea agreement will be set to run concurrently with his state prison sentence, according to the plea agreement.