News from the Justice Department’s Tax Division: IRS Commissioner comments on syndicated conservation easement guilty pleas


Stein Agee of Canton, Ga., and Corey Agee of Atlanta, Ga., pleaded guilty for their roles in a wide-ranging abusive tax scheme to defraud the IRS. According to court documents, from at least 2013 through 2019, S. Agee and C. Agee, then partners at an Atlanta accounting firm, marketed, promoted, and sold together with co-conspirators, investments in fraudulent syndicated conservation easement (SCE) tax shelters. However, the partnerships were a sham, as S. Agee, C. Agee, and their co-conspirators marketed the SCE tax shelters by promising investors that for every $1 invested in the partnership, the investor would receive more than $4 in charitable tax deductions.

“Two defendants pleaded guilty today in the first-ever criminal case by IRS-CI involving conservation easements,” said IRS Commissioner Charles Rettig. “It should be considered the next step in the IRS’ battle against abusive SCEs. The defendants and their co-conspirators used conservation easement donations to personally enrich themselves and allow wealthy tax clients to evade their tax obligations. The charges and guilty pleas demonstrate that participation in abusive SCEs will not be tolerated. Once again, the IRS recommends that anyone who participated in an abusive SCE consult independent counsel about coming into compliance.”

S. Agee and C. Agee both pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to defraud the United States which carries a maximum penalty of five years in prison. They also face a period of supervised release, restitution, and monetary penalties.

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