ERIE, Penn. (BNc) — On Jan. 26, 2012 Donald Keith Turner (known among churches of Christ by his alias, Don L. Wood) was sentenced to five years imprisonment, three years of supervised release, and restitution to the IRS of $408,034. He was convicted by jury trial at Erie, Penn., Sept. 15, 2011, for conspiring to defraud the United States of tax revenue. He appealed the decision on technicalities but lost the appeal.
Turner first became associated with churches of Christ through a prison ministry when he was serving a four-year sentence, having been convicted in 1986 for tax fraud by setting up a fake church for the purpose of selling tax-evasion schemes.
After being baptized in 1986, Turner encouraged his daughter to attend the church of Christ. She has remained an active and faithful Christian to the present time.
Turner published a book in 1990 entitled, ‘Tax free. How the super rich do it’. He had set up a new organization “First American Research” through which he sold offshore tax evasion schemes.
After an investigation by the IRS, Turner and one of his clients, Daniel J. Leveto, were indicted on February 15, 2001. Both men left the United States.
Turner went to Sint-Maarten, then to Holland, South Africa (where he met Leveto) and then to India.
Leveto went to Belize, then to South Africa (where he met Don), Mexico, and Canada.
Leveto was arrested in March of 2004 at a Hubbard, Ohio truck stop. He was convicted of tax fraud on October 14, 2005 and sentenced to 46 months in prison. He appealed but lost the appeal.
The scheme involved Leveto’s selling his business to a sham foreign trust purportedly located in the Turks and Caicos Islands. All profits were distributed to another sham foreign trust creating the illusion that the profits were distributed as foreign source income to foreign beneficiaries, eliminating US income tax liability. Using debit cards he then channeled the profits back to himself in the US.
When Turner went to Sint-Maarten in 2001 he claimed he was going as a missionary and he associated with local churches of Christ.
Later that year, he went to Holland where he continued to promote his tax-evasion scheme. Roy Davison, although he did not know about the indictment, warned people who had been approached by Turner that the scheme was illegal.
From Holland Turner went to South Africa and then finally went to India in February of 2004. There he also claimed he was doing mission work. He arranged for two young boys to live with him, although they were not orphans, promising to care for them financially. He used their pictures as he tried to raise funds.
In India he set up a program called America’s Medical Solutions to help people in the West go to India for less-expensive medical treatment and to help Indian doctors and nurses find employment in the West.
When in the US raising funds for his activities in India, he learned that he was still wanted although it had been more than ten years since his indictment, so he turned himself in at Erie, Pennsylvania in July, 2010, rather than waiting to be arrested.
He was held in supervised custody at Diocesan Lodge until his trial in September, 2011, and his sentencing in January, 2012. After sentencing he was taken directly from the court to prison.