Judge denies dismissal for Nacogdoches Co. couple

A federal judge is denying a motion to dismiss the case against a former Nacogdoches County commissioner and his wife, stating an indictment against them does not exceed the statute of limitations.

Reggie and Deborah Cotton are under federal indictment, which alleges they conspired to cover up their income from a cleaning service. Federal prosecutors claim they failed to pay $97,000 in taxes.

Judge Ron Clark determined that evidence shows the indictment was filed before the six-year statute of limitations.

According to a motion filed in federal court, the defendants argue the statute of limitation, which is six years, bars prosecution in the case, as the indictment was returned on June 20, 2012, but the tax returns were filed on June 7, 2006.

In the government's response, they allege that the IRS began a civil audit of the Cottons for their failure to file returns in 2003, 2004 and 2005. In May or June 2006, Reggie Cotton called his accountant and reported he had received a letter from the IRS and he wanted the accountant to prepare their returns.

Federal authorities interviewed the accountant in September. According to the response, the accountant said signed the return on July 5, 2006 and Cotton provided a signature on June 6, 2006. The accountant said it was impossible for Cotton to sign the return before he had it printed.

For the 2004 return, the document alleges someone changed the date on the return.

The document further alleges that Deborah Cotton did not report a personal business to the IRS and in an interview in April 2008, she tried to tell the accountant that she told him about the business but the accountant flatly denied the clam.

The document further explains that the statute of limitations is not exceeded because it is the date in which the returns are filed that the statute begins, not when the returns are signed.

In Clark's ruling, he stated