HUNTINGTON — Two Huntington business operators pleaded guilty Monday to conspiring to defraud the United States in regards to their employment and individual income taxes.

Russell and Karen Rucker, a married couple, are involved with the insurance agency Rucker, Billups and Fowler Inc., or RBF. Russell Rucker was the president of RBF and Karen Rucker served as office manager since late 2013.

According to the office of U.S. Attorney Michael Stuart, the Ruckers withheld approximately $143,226 in payroll taxes from the wages of RBF’s employees between September 2015 and September 2018 instead of paying it over to the Internal Revenue Service. Instead, the Ruckers diverted portions of the withheld funds for their own personal benefit, according to a news release from Stuart’s office.

From 2014 through 2016, the Ruckers allegedly paid themselves more than $500,000 in salary. They attempted to conceal funds from the IRS by depositing money into the bank account of another person and by using several bank accounts not disclosed to the IRS, according to the release. They also paid many of their bills, including their mortgage, in cash.

According to the release, the Ruckers attempted to evade payment of $114,911 from Russell Rucker’s 2001, 2002 and 2005 individual income taxes by marking his paychecks as non-taxable “note proceeds.”

The Ruckers have failed to file their individual income tax returns and corporate returns for RBF from 2014 to 2017. The tax loss caused to the IRS is more than $250,000, according to the release.

The Ruckers each face a maximum sentence of five years in prison when they are sentenced Jan. 27, 2020. They also face possible monetary penalties, a period of supervised release and restitution.

Monday’s plea hearing was handled by Alexander Effendi and Lauren Archer, attorneys with the U.S. Justice Department’s Tax Division.

Travis Crum is a reporter for The Herald-Dispatch. He may be reached by phone at 304-526-2801.

Travis Crum is a reporter for The Herald-Dispatch. He may be reached by phone at 304-526-2801.

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