Despite warnings from his tax preparer, the businessman made the false claim to the IRS.

 A Colorado businessman was sentenced to 12 months and one day in prison and ordered to pay $241,964.71 in restitution for submitting a false tax return to the IRS.

Trenton Switzer, 40, of Gypsum, Colorado, had pleaded guilty to the charge.

According to court records, Switzer operated a sales training business that generated significant income. Switzer then attempted to avoid paying taxes on his income by falsely claiming that he had made a $250,000 charitable contribution to a fake church that he created for the purpose of evading taxes. As part of this scheme, Switzer incorporated the “Church of Divine Sovereignty” and opened a bank account in its name. Less than 24 hours after incorporating it, Switzer filed documents dissolving the fake church. Later, Switzer deposited $250,000 into the church bank account he created and then used that money to purchase bitcoin.

Switzer provided his tax preparer with a letter, signed by Switzer himself as the “pastor” of his fake church, purporting to memorialize the $250,000 as a charitable contribution. Switzer’s tax preparer warned him that his fake church did not qualify as a charitable organization. Despite the warnings, Switzer falsely claimed the $250,000 deduction.

“Mr. Switzer’s claim to be the pastor of a fake church he created to evade his taxes landed him in a real prison,” said Acting U.S. Attorney Matt Kirsch.