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Shelby man sentenced for failing to file tax returns

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Gets 6 months work-release and $30,000 fine

By Lisa King

A Shelby County man has been given a 6-month confinement sentence and ordered to pay more than $300,000 in fines and restitution for failure to pay income taxes.

Ricky Edward Hughes, former president and CEO of U.S. Wireless Online, Inc., was sentenced Monday in U.S. District Court to 6 months community confinement and 3 years probation.

Stephanie Collins, spokesperson for the United States Attorney, Western District of Kentucky, said that in addition to the sentence, Hughes, 42, was ordered to pay restitution as well as a $30,000 fine after pleading guilty to failure to file federal income tax returns for 2002 through 2005.

Hughes derived substantial income from various investments and business activities, with a total gross income exceeding $1.7 million, Collins said.

Hughes was indicted by a federal grand jury in Louisville on April 7, 2009, and pleaded guilty Aug. 2, 2010, to four counts of failure to file federal income tax returns.

In his plea agreement, the court said that Hughes was a resident of Louisville for the years when he did not pay his income taxes.

The indictments carry a combined maximum prison term of 4 years. He has already paid $315,000 in restitution.

U.S. District Judge Joseph H. McKinley Jr. said in a press release that he wanted Hughes’ sentence to “send a message to other businessmen in Louisville” and that punishment should not be “a walk in the park.”

In open court, Hughes said, “There is no acceptable excuse for my action.…I will never again fail to file tax returns.”

Said Christopher Pikelis, special agent in charge of IRS criminal investigation at the Nashville Field Office, in the release:

 “The privilege of living well in the United States carries with it certain responsibilities, one of which is voluntary payment of taxes.”

Collins said Hughes will serve his time within a community confinement system, which is minimum security environment for work release.

“Hughes has not been assigned yet, but there are two halfway houses in Louisville, and he will go to one of those,” he said.

Hughes’s attorneys, Scott Cox and Mark Miller of Louisville, were unavailable for comment.