LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- A former private investigator who volunteered his services to a family looking for a loved one who has been missing for three years has been sentenced to federal prison for filing false tax returns. 

The U.S. Attorney's Office says 53-year-old Tracy Leonard from Clarksville will spend nine months in prison for hiding more than $1 million from the IRS. Prosecutors say from 2015 to 2019 Leonard hid income from the IRS by cashing 186 business income-related checks at a check cashing service.

Investigators say Leonard cashed checks every week. Some of those checks were worth more than $25,000, and others were for amounts greater than $50,000. Leonard had to pay the check cashing company up to a 10 percent fee for every check he cashed. 

The U.S. Attorney's Office in the Southern District of Indiana says there was "a significant discrepancy between the amount of the checks received and cashed by Leonard and what he reported as income on his federal income tax returns for 2015 through 2019." Leonard’s unreported income for the five years exceeded $1.1 million.

He now owes the IRS more than $300,000 for filing false tax returns. Leonard will be supervised by the U.S. Probation Office for two years following his release from federal prison, and must pay restitution.

Leonard was the private investigator in the Andrea Knabel case. She's been missing since August 2019. Mike Knabel, Andrea's dad, says he didn't know about the charges or sentence. In a text to Valerie Chinn he wrote: "What I do know is that Tracy Leonard PI volunteered selflessly to find my missing daughter and is now retired from the PI."

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