A former Houston optometrist was sentenced to federal prison Thursday, Feb. 9.

A former Houston optometrist was sentenced Thursday in U.S. Federal Court for evading income taxes, bankruptcy fraud, impeding the work of the IRS and filing a false tax return on which he claimed a $40 million refund.

Dr. Leslie Robert MacLaren, 61, of Nixa, was sentenced by U.S. District Judge Richard E. Dorr to four years and three months in federal prison without parole. The court also ordered MacLaren to pay $334,003 in restitution.

On July 21, 2011, MacLaren was convicted at trial of five counts of attempting to evade federal income taxes. MacLaren, who once had a practice in Houston, attempted to evade obligations of approximately $161,773 in various ways, including concealing income and hiding assets. Hidden assets included a three story house in Nixa located on more than six acres, which he titled in his mother’s name and three vehicles (a Mitsubishi Eclipse, a Porsche 924 and a Lincoln Continental), which he purchased and titled under the name of a fictitious company. Further, he filed a fraudulent bankruptcy petition, resulting in the discharge of back tax liability for the years 1993 and 1995 to 1998. MacLaren also attempted to evade income taxes for the years 2003 through 2006 by failing to file returns, avoiding use of the banks – dealing mostly in cash – and by listing eight dependents and claiming exemption from withholding on an IRS Form W 4 that he provided to a former employer.

In addition to the tax evasion counts, MacLaren was found guilty of two counts of bankruptcy fraud, one count of submitting a false claim to the United States and one count of obstructing the administration of internal revenue laws.

On May 1, 2003, MacLaren obtained a bankruptcy discharge of his debts, including the more than $117,000 that he owed for federal and Missouri state taxes. In his bankruptcy petition, MacLaren under reported his gross income by more than $3,000 per month, falsely claimed that payroll taxes and Social Security payments were being deducted from his pay and failed to report the Nixa home and a vehicle titled under the name Dioptrics Limited, a non existent company.

MacLaren responded to an IRS audit with lengthy correspondence challenging the authority of the IRS and the legitimacy of federal income taxes, along with frivolous complaints against IRS personnel. When advised he was under criminal investigation, MacLaren filed a frivolous lawsuit in federal court naming various IRS agents involved in the criminal investigation of his conduct and claiming $1.1 million in damages. The lawsuit was dismissed. After his indictment, MacLaren filed an additional federal income tax return claiming a $40 million refund.

 

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