Former IRS agent sentenced in Renaissance tax scam

A retired Internal Revenue Service agent, Thomas W. Steelman, 72, of Blue Springs, has been sentenced to 46 months in federal prison for his role in a tax fraud scheme.

He also was ordered to pay more than $10.6 million in restitution to the IRS.

Steelman is one of at least a half dozen persons who have pled guilty to fraud or conspiracy charges in connection with their involvement in Renaissance-The Tax People, a defunct Topeka-based enterprise.

The U.S. Department of Justice Tax Division, the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, and the IRS investigated and pursued the cases.

In February a federal jury in Topeka found Michael Craig Cooper, 53, founder of Renaissance-The Tax People, guilty of more than 70 charges, including mail fraud and wire fraud.

Authorities said the organization presented bogus tax deduction schemes to clients.Prosecutors said Steelman used his former IRS status to falsely represent that “numerous experts had reviewed the program and found no problems with it,” and that he prepared fraudulent tax returns claiming excessively high Form W-4 exemptions.