William “Geri” Eaton, 60, was sentenced to 27 months in prison for tax evasion and for making false statements in a matter involving a health care benefit program.

Between 2004 and 2008, Eaton, a realtor, earned more than $1.18 million in taxable income. He failed to file his federal income tax returns as they became due and instead, in the fall of 2009, Eaton filed late returns for all four prior tax years. His total tax due, not counting interest and penalties, was more than $472,000. In early 2010, Eaton entered an agreement to pay his back-taxes in monthly installments of $1,000. He made six payments, and then stopped paying altogether.

On April 29, 2011, Eaton opened an account under a false Social Security number at a Tallahassee credit union. One week later, he sold his beach house in St. Teresa for more than $1.3 million. To conceal the money from the IRS, Eaton deposited the $727,437 in proceeds he received from the sale into his fraudulently-opened credit union account. He later transferred a portion of this money to a Pensacola credit union account, which he had also opened under a false Social Security number. Over the course of the next seven months, Eaton spent more than $125,000 of the sales proceeds, and made no payments on his taxes during this period.

In Sept. 2011, Eaton was treated for a heart attack at Sacred Heart Hospital in Pensacola. In his application to the hospital for financial assistance in paying his bill, he falsely claimed that he had a single checking account with a balance of only $1,588, when, in fact, the balances in his accounts totaled well over $600,000. In listing his assets on the application, Eaton also fraudulently omitted the fact that he had purchased two vehicles for $31,000 only a month before. In reliance on Eaton’s false statements, Sacred Heart wrote off $79,622 in charges for Eaton’s care.

In Nov. 2011, the IRS levied Eaton’s fraudulently-opened credit union accounts and obtained approximately $610,000 as payments toward his tax liabilities.

In Nov. 2013, Eaton pleaded guilty to charges of tax evasion and making false statements in a matter involving a health care benefit program. In addition to his prison sentence, Eaton was ordered to pay $99,126 in restitution to the IRS and to Sacred Heart Health System.

In announcing the sentence handed down by the court, United States Attorney Pamela C. Marsh expressed her deep gratitude for the work of the assistant U.S. attorney who prosecuted the case, as well as the agents of IRS Criminal Investigations who investigated the case.

 “Every year, millions of hard-working Americans comply with the law and pay their federal taxes. Those who evade and cheat the system hurt all of us,” Marsh said. “Criminal tax prosecutions are often difficult and complicated to investigate and prosecute, but they are necessary to deter potential violators and promote respect for the tax laws. The sentence in this case should serve as a stark warning to those who choose to cheat their fellow Americans by failing to pay their fair share.”

The case was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Karen Rhew-Miller.