The self-proclaimed “Grand Sheik” of a Moorish temple in Chicago was sentenced to nearly six years in prison Friday for defrauding the IRS out of $3.2 million.
Marcel A. Walton, 47, pleaded guilty last year to one count of mail fraud, according to the U.S. Attorney’s office.
Walton claimed to be “Grand Sheik” of the Chicago branch of the Moorish Science Temple of America, prosecutors said.
In 2010 and 2011, Walton told several recruits — some of them elderly or homeless — that if they became members of the temple, they could claim money owed to the Moors by the federal government, prosecutors said.
At least 17 people filed nearly 50 returns seeking more than $15 million in refunds, ultimately getting more than $3.2 million from the IRS, prosecutors said.
He instructed the recruits to pay him 10 percent of the money they received from the IRS, prosecutors said. One temple member paid him $90,000 after receiving $900,000 in refunds in 2010.
Walton himself filed three fraudulent returns seeking $900,000 in refunds, causing the IRS to issue him more than $300,000, prosecutors said.
“Walton exploited a vulnerability in our tax system and filed blatantly false trust tax returns,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Carol Bell argued during the sentencing hearing. “He used his position to recruit individuals to further his tax scheme.”
U.S. District Judge Thomas Durkin sentenced Walton to 68 months in federal prison on Friday.