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Bank deposits land Medford couple in hot water

AMedford couple stands to lose close to $100,000 after federal investigators claimed they allegedly deposited cash in bank branches across the area in such a way as to avoid the notice of the Internal Revenue Service.

Federal law requires that deposits, exchanges or withdrawals of $10,000 or more be reported to the IRS in the form of a Currency Transaction Report, or CTR. Federal law enforcement uses these reports to bust large-scale drug dealers and uncover money-laundering and tax-evasion schemes, according to a complaint filed with the U.S. Attorney's Office in Oregon.

Investigators allege John and Ruth Coughlin made several deposits of slightly less than $10,000 over the course of 2012 so that CTRs would not be filed.

A statement written by Douglas County sheriff's Detective Joshua Sullivan, who is assigned to the state's financial crimes task force, claims Ruth Coughlin made numerous deposits between Jan. 23, 2012, and Feb. 3, 2012, that suggested she was attempting to structure her financial holdings to avoid the CTRs.

For example, Sullivan noted, Coughlin made deposits of $9,975, $9,000, $9,000 and $9,500 over the course of two days at two separate bank branches that were within six miles of each other.

The federal government seized nearly $100,000 of the couple's money from Rogue Federal Credit Union and filed civil forfeiture proceedings against the money April 10, claiming the cash was part of a "drug-related seizure of property."

No criminal charges have been filed against the couple, and federal investigators offered no evidence of drugs in the civil forfeiture filing.

As part of his investigation, Sullivan interviewed Rogue Federal Credit Union employes who said Coughlin indicated that she was aware of the reporting laws.

"She knew if it was under a certain amount, then the bank didn't have to report anything," one employee said. "She thought that if she was under $10,000 per transaction, nothing would be reported."

Coughlin apparently didn't realize, however, that the law stipulates that banks should report when $10,000 worth of transactions from one person per day are made, Sullivan wrote in his report.

Sullivan said he could not determine how the Coughlins made their money. The couple claims to own a business called Coughlin Enterprises Inc., but the business is not registered with the state's business directory.

Sullivan did learn the Coughlins have three airplanes registered to them through the Federal Aviation Administration.

The Coughlins did not return phone calls seeking comment for this story.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Amy Potter declined to comment on any pending legal action against the Coughlins.

Reach reporter Chris Conrad at 541-776-4471 or cconrad@mailtribune.com.