Cedar City man sentenced to federal prison following $58K tax return scam, insurance fraud

Composite image | Background photo by Peter Csaza/iStock/Getty Images Plus, booking photo of Landon Pilkey taken in Washington County, Utah, July 18, 2019 | Photo courtesy of the Washington County Sheriff’s Office, St. George News

ST. GEORGE — A Cedar City man was sentenced in federal court 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, of Cedar City booking photo taken in Washington County, Utah, July 18, 2019 | Booking photo courtesy of the Washington County Sheriff’s Office, St. George News

Landon Pilkey, 35, appeared in U.S. District Court on Oct. 30 on two felony charges, including one count of theft of public money and one count of aiding and abetting, according to federal sentencing documents.

Under the terms of a plea agreement, 18 counts of theft of public money, one count of aiding and abetting, and one count of conspiracy to submit a false claim were dismissed in exchange for the defendant entering a guilty plea on the two counts listed in the report.

Pilkey was on federal probation when the federal charges were filed and was also charged with probation violation for allegedly committing new crimes. When he entered his guilty plea on the federal charges, records indicate he also admitted to the probation violations and was sentenced to serve 24 months in federal prison because of them.

For the felony charges, he was ordered to pay $170,838 in restitution while the fine was not imposed. He was also placed on 60-months post-prison supervision that will take effect upon his release from federal custody. 

The sentence stems from a six-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 which were deposited into 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.

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. He told police that when he returned the following morning, the car was gone, and the following day he filed a $7,300 claim with the insurance company to cover the value of the car, reportedly telling 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.

The Fraud Division of the Utah Department of Insurance opened an investigation in March in which cell phone records 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 also 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, and told insurance investigators the car was not stolen but instead was given to Pilkey to sell.

Pilkey was also indicted in June, 2018, after 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.

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.

Pilkey was remanded to the custody of U.S. Marshals following October’s hearing to be transported to federal prison.

Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2019, all rights reserved.

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