LAS VEGAS (AP) — A federal jury in Las Vegas found a former National Football League player and two businessmen guilty of using a Nevada company they dubbed the National Audit Defense Network to promote a product called Tax Break 2000 to defraud the government of tax revenue.
Former casino owner Alan Rodrigues of Henderson, former Las Vegas businessman Weston Coolidge and former NFL punter Joseph Prokop were found guilty Tuesday of conspiracy to defraud the Internal Revenue Service and mail fraud.
Rodrigues and Coolidge also were convicted of 15 counts of aiding in the preparation of false tax returns, and Prokop was convicted of 13 false tax return preparation counts.
Defense lawyers told the Las Vegas Review-Journal (http://bit.ly/Sgiw7x ) they expect to appeal. They argued at the trial that their clients didn't willfully break the law and believed their product was legal.
The verdicts came after a six-week trial and several days of deliberations. U.S. District Judge Miranda Du allowed all three men to remain free pending sentencing Sept. 3.
The Review-Journal identified Coolidge, 69, as a longtime Las Vegas businessman and Rodrigues, 55, as former owner of the Opera House and Silver Nugget casinos in North Las Vegas
Prokop, 53, of Upland, California, played for six teams — the Green Bay Packers, San Diego Chargers, New York Jets, San Francisco 49ers, Miami Dolphins and New York Giants — in seven NFL seasons from 1985 to 1992.
The three men were indicted by a Las Vegas federal grand jury in January 2009. Prosecutors said Coolidge was the National Audit Defense Network's owner and president and Rodrigues was the company's general manager.
Prokop was described as the marketing director of Oryan Management and Financial Services, a company that prosecutors said created Tax Break 2000 and paid the Las Vegas firm to sell it.
Prosecutors argued the men told customers they could claim up to $10,475 in income tax credits and deductions under the Americans With Disabilities Act.
The U.S. Justice Department once estimated that the Internal Revenue Service lost more than $324 million in taxes to the scheme.