Law: Crackdown on a Coal Caper

Big names and big money are caught up in tax-fraud charges

It was one of those all too tempting tax dodges. Invest $30,000 in Wyoming coal fields, the pitch went, and use a loophole in the law to take a legitimate $150,000 deduction on Form 1040. Like many tax-shelter schemes, the offer attracted big names with big money: Basketball Stars Spencer Haywood and Earl ("the Pearl") Monroe, Candid Camera Host Allen Funt, Rock Singer Alice Cooper and Model Margaux Hemingway. The late Elvis Presley was the biggest customer of all: he sank $500,000 into the enterprise.

That was four years ago, and those...

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