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Going Blind to Fraud

KAREN WRIGHT

Optometrist Charles Cooper owned and operated All Eyes Optometry Clinic in a small, rural farming town. Dr. Cooper, tall and very personable, was liked and trusted by his patients. Dr. Cooper's wife, Marilyn, a take-charge country woman, was the office manager. The Coopers' adult children also worked at the clinic.

All Eyes had been in business for more than 20 years when the state tax commission received an anonymous tip that Dr. Cooper had avoided paying income taxes. In December of that year, the commission notified Dr. Cooper that his tax returns from the prior three years would be audited. While the audit was ongoing, Dr. Cooper refused to meet with auditors and failed to provide the requested records. Steve Barton, the audit supervisor, filed affidavits for search warrants of Dr. Cooper's home and business. The search warrants were executed simultaneously, and three police officers were present at each location. Steve Barton read the warrant while local police officers entered and secured the scene. Steve and his team from the tax commission conducted the search.

Deputy Attorney General Joseph Gaston presented evidence seized during the search to the grand jury, which returned an indictment of three counts of felony income tax evasion. Dr. Cooper's defense attorney moved to have the evidence suppressed, stating that the search had been conducted ...

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