Cedar City man faces federal charges for allegedly filing $58K in false tax returns

Composite image | Background photo by Peter Csaza/iStock/Getty Images Plus, St. George News

ST. GEORGE — A Cedar City man faces dozens of felony charges for an alleged tax scheme involving more than $58,000 in public funds, in addition to several charges relating to theft and insurance fraud.

Landon Pilkey, 34, was arrested Thursday by agents with Adult Probation and Parole. He was booked into jail on a federal hold on two federal cases, along with a warrant on an Iron County case involving two felony theft-related charges.

Tax return scheme

On Jan. 24, Pilkey was indicted in federal court on dozens of felonies stemming from a 6-year investigation that began after Pilkey allegedly conspired to defraud the IRS of more than $58,650 by filing 60 false tax returns between March and June of 2013 that were deposited in another individual’s bank account.

From that bank account, the defendant, who was not an authorized signer on the account, allegedly wrote four checks to himself and made 15 withdrawals. Investigators say a portion of the money was also wire transferred to other co-conspirators located in Lebanon and Dubai.

Landon Pilkey, 34, of Cedar City, booking photo taken in Washington County, Utah, July 18, 2019 | Photo courtesy of the Washington County Sheriff’s Office, St. George News

Pilkey was charged with 19 counts of theft of public money, two counts of aiding and abetting and one count of conspiracy to submit a false claim. These charges are in addition to four counts of aggravated identity theft, each a class B felony punishable by 25 years in prison.

Insurance fraud

Pilkey’s most recent case involves alleged insurance fraud. Between Nov. 21, 2018, and Jan. 10, Pilkey and his co-defendant, John Taylor Williams, of Colorado City, Arizona, were allegedly involved in a scheme to defraud American Family Insurance of more than $7,300, according to an indictment filed with the 5th District Court in St. George by Assistant Attorney General Daryl Bell.

According to the indictment, Williams reported the theft of a 2008 Subaru on Nov. 21, telling officers the vehicle broke down at Exit 2 on Interstate 15 and that when he returned the following morning, it was gone.

The following day, Williams filed a $7,300 claim with the insurance company to cover the value of the car and reportedly told the agent it was stolen.

During the course of the insurance claim, both Pilkey and Williams said they were in the Subaru when it broke down, and agents became suspicious after a number of calls from the St. George Police Department to Williams regarding the car theft report went unanswered.

In March, the Fraud Division of the Utah Department of Insurance opened an investigation.

Through the course of the fraud investigation, agents obtained cell phone records that revealed that Pilkey’s phone “was never near Exit 2 in St. George the night the Subaru was reportedly stolen,” according to the indictment. Records allegedly revealed the last phone call made by the defendant on the night in question connected to a cell tower near Kanarraville, more than 40 miles away from Exit 2.

When the investigator called the defendant’s phone, “Pilkey abruptly ended the phone call when he was told he was considered a suspect in the case,” according to the statement.

Later, investigators say Williams admitted that he lied about the stolen vehicle, telling insurance investigators the car was not stolen but instead was given to Pilkey to sell.

On May 14, the case was filed in 5th District Court, and the following week a warrant was issued for Pilkey’s arrest.

Iron County vehicle theft

On June 5, 2018, investigator Brett Crowley with the Utah Motor Vehicle Enforcement Division was called to look into the theft of a 2006 Cadillac CTS after a man filed a report claiming the vehicle, which he inherited after the death of his father, was stolen by Pilkey, according to the probable cause statement filed in support of Pilkey’s arrest.

Investigators say the vehicle was brought to an auto repair shop in Cedar City where the defendant, posing as the owner of the shop, worked on the Cadillac several times. While the car was in the shop, Pilkey changed the name on the car’s title to a woman’s name, according to the statement. When the owner returned to pick up the car, he was told Pilkey had taken it on a test drive. When the defendant failed to return with the car, police were contacted.

Pilkey told investigators that he was given the vehicle as payment for unpaid repair bills and that he changed the title over to his name a short time later.

The car’s owner provided investigators with invoices showing all repairs were paid in full, at which time they contacted Pilkey who told them there were other repair bills that went unpaid. He also provided copies of the supposedly outstanding invoices as proof, which authorities believed were fraudulent.

Investigators received a copy of the title that showed it was signed over to Pilkey by the legal owner in February 2017 for the purchase price of $500 due to a “blown motor.” The signee of the title was an individual who died more than a year before the document was executed.

The Cadillac was reportedly sold to an individual in Nevada.

Following the investigation, Pilkey was charged in 5th District Court in Iron County Jan. 31 with one second-degree felony count of theft along with a third-degree felony count of providing false evidence of title and registration. Pilkey was on felony federal probation at the time he was charged. In February, a $15,000 warrant was issued for Pilkey’s arrest.

This report is based on statements from police and may not contain the full scope of findings. Persons arrested or charged are presumed innocent until found guilty in a court of law or as otherwise decided by a trier-of-fact.

 

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