Mequon woman pleads guilty to tax evasion

John Diedrich

Dec. 26, 2012

A Mequon woman who ripped off her grandmother and her sister has pleaded guilty to tax evasion and filing a false claim against the IRS, according to court documents.

Leah M. Kuchta, 42, who worked as a certified public accountant, pleaded guilty earlier this month. Each of the counts carries up to five years in prison, but she is likely to get much less time under federal sentencing guidelines when she is sentenced in March.

In the plea agreement, the prosecutor agrees not to recommend a sentence of more than 30 months.

According to the plea agreement:

In 2005, Kuchta's grandmother received an inheritance of more than $1 million and it was held in trust. Kuchta persuaded her grandmother to grant her access. She told her grandmother she would invest the money in low-risk investments.

Kuchta immediately withdrew more than $900,000. Once the grandmother learned of the withdrawal, she confronted Kuchta, who said she had "messed up" and agreed to put the money back.

But she did not put all the money back, eventually spending $181,811 on personal expenses including starting a business with her boyfriend, buying a house in Mequon and investing in Arizona land deals.

Besides using her grandmother's trust for her benefit, Kuchta executed a land deal with her sister in which she took title to her sister's home to prevent it from going into foreclosure.

As part of the deal, Kuchta arranged to have a check issued for $30,000 in her sister's name. Kuchta then stole the check, forged her sister's name and deposited it in her personal account without telling her sister.

In all, Kuchta failed to pay $234,836 in taxes on unreported income in 2005.

Kuchta also ran a business called Sheva Investments with a business partner, who did not regularly file income tax returns. Kuchta falsely filed a tax return in her partner's name without telling the partner. In 2008, the false claims resulted in $89,561 paid by the IRS. The money went into Kuchta's personal account.

In the plea agreement, Kuchta agrees to pay the IRS $324,397 plus penalties and interest.

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