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Russell Smith Federal Courthouse

The Russell Smith Federal Courthouse in Missoula

A Missoula couple pleaded guilty this week to federal tax fraud charges stemming from their car wash businesses in Missoula and Hamilton, while their accountant may go to trial on his own charges.

Joseph and Traci Baumgardner, former owners of Pro Sweep Plus and Splash Car Wash, each pleaded guilty on Thursday in U.S. District Court to one count of conspiracy to defraud the United States. Their guilty pleas come as part of an agreement with prosecutors signed in July.

Both businesses identified in the indictment are now under new ownership, the Missoulian previously reported.

An Internal Revenue Service investigation into the businesses found the Baumgardners, with the help of their accountant, Daniel Brian Burke, had been skimming money from the businesses without reporting the income on their tax returns, according to federal charging documents. Between 2011 and 2013, receipts from the two businesses totaled more than $5 million, while the taxes paid in that period amounted to only $10,066, prosecutors alleged.

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Additionally, federal authorities found the trio inaccurately identified assets as business items when in fact they were personal assets.

Joseph and Traci Baumgardner are scheduled for sentencing on Dec. 13. Conspiracy to defraud the United States carries a maximum five-year prison sentence.

Burke, who pleaded not guilty to the charges in April, is so far scheduled for a Sept. 23 trial. Attorneys wrote in a joint court filing in July that the investigation in his case remains ongoing.

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