CHICAGO — The self-proclaimed “Grand Sheik” of a Moorish temple in Chicago has been sentenced to nearly six years in federal prison for causing the Internal Revenue Service to issue more than $3.2 million in fraudulent tax returns.
MARCEL A. WALTON filed three fraudulent returns seeking $900,000 in refunds, causing the IRS to issue him more than $300,000. Walton also recruited individuals, including the elderly and homeless, to join a Chicago branch of the Moorish Science Temple of America and file similarly fraudulent returns on the false pretense that temple members were entitled to remuneration from the United States government for its purported use of Moorish lands. Walton claimed to be the “Grand Sheik” of the Chicago branch of the temple. At least 17 individuals filed nearly 50 returns seeking more than $15 million in refunds, ultimately obtaining more than $3.2 million from the IRS.
Walton, 47, of Chicago, pleaded guilty last year to one count of mail fraud. U.S. District Judge Thomas M. Durkin on Friday imposed the 68-month sentence in federal court in Chicago.
The sentence was announced by Joel R. Levin, Acting United States Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois; and Gabriel L. Grchan, Special Agent-in-Charge of the Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigation Division in Chicago.
“Walton exploited a vulnerability in our tax system and filed blatantly false trust tax returns,” Assistant United States Attorney Carol A. Bell argued during the sentencing hearing. “He used his position to recruit individuals to further his tax scheme.”
In 2010 and 2011, Walton told numerous individuals that, if they became members of the temple, they could claim the money purportedly owed to the Moors by the federal government. Walton told the potential recruits that the Moors were the original discoverers of America and that a Moorish prophet was given a deed to lands making up North America. Walton executed the scheme by preparing and causing the preparation of trust or estate tax returns for himself and the others that contained false information regarding the purported trust’s income, fiduciary fees, exemptions and federal tax withheld.
Walton stood to gain from the returns filed by his temple members because he instructed them to pay him ten percent of the money they received from the IRS through the filing of the fraudulent returns. One of the temple members paid Walton $90,000 after receiving $900,000 in refunds from the IRS in 2010.