North Carolina man sentenced for conspiracy to defraud the United States and attempts to interfere with administration of Internal Revenue laws


Date: September 29, 2022


United States Attorney Alison J. Ramsdell announced today that a Burgaw, North Carolina, man convicted of Conspiracy to Defraud the United States and Attempts to Interfere with Administration of Internal Revenue Laws was sentenced on September 26, 2022, by U.S. District Judge Lawrence L. Piersol.

Randy L. Garriss was sentenced to three years on Count one, and 12 months and a day on Count two, in federal prison, to be served concurrently. Garriss was also sentenced to three years of supervised release on Count one and one year of supervised release on Count two, also to be served concurrently. A special assessment to the Federal Crime Victims Fund was ordered in the amount of $200.

Garriss was indicted by a federal grand jury in July of 2017. A jury trial in June of 2022 convicted Garriss on both Counts.

The conviction stemmed from incidents beginning in April of 2004 when Theodore Nelson and his son, Steven Nelson, created over 25 sham trusts to hide their income and assets from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), thus evading the assessment and payment of federal income taxes. The Nelsons used forms created by Garriss' co-defendant Loren Brown. The trusts were designed, in part, to make it difficult for the IRS to determine the Nelsons' federal income tax liability. The Nelsons appointed John Sheridan and Loren Brown as trustees and successor trustees for the trusts until Sheridan's death in 2011. Garriss then took over after Sheridan passed away. In this manner, the Nelsons were able to put many layers between themselves and their assets/income. Garriss' and Brown's agreement to act as successor trustees helped the Nelsons hide their income and assets from the IRS.

The Nelsons reside in Letcher, South Dakota. Garriss and Brown acted as signors for South Dakota bank accounts associated with the Nelson trusts and performed most of their actions on behalf of the Nelsons' tax evasion in South Dakota.

Among other acts, Garriss and Brown corruptly endeavored to obstruct and impede the due administration of the internal revenue laws by mailing to the IRS a Protest and Demand for Administrative Review on behalf of the Nelsons. Garriss signed on his own behalf and that of Brown as trustees for Steve Nelson and the Nelsons' trusts. The letter was received by the IRS on January 5, 2016.

This case was investigated by the IRS Criminal Investigation. Assistant U.S. Attorney Ann M. Hoffman prosecuted the case.

Garriss has been allowed to self-report by October 17, 2022.