A former Internal Revenue Service agent turned tax preparer has been accused of ordering the killings of two witnesses who were scheduled to testify against him for preparing bogus tax returns and stealing clients’ tax refunds.

Steven Martinez was ordered held without bail, according to the Associated Press, by a federal magistrate judge on Monday. He worked as an IRS agent from 1988 to 1992 and later opened his own accounting and tax preparation business.

He was charged last year with stealing $11 million from his wealthy tax preparation clients. Martinez would instruct his clients to deposit their tax payments into his bank accounts and he would forward the money to federal and state tax authorities. Instead, he would claim far lower amounts of income for them and keep the extra tax refund money for himself.

Martinez was scheduled for his next hearing on March 19 on fraud charges and had been on bail prior to his arrest. Two former clients of Martinez were set to testify against him, and he allegedly arranged to kill them.
According to the FBI, Martinez gave documents to a former employee on people who were set to testify against him and asked him to use different pistols with silencers to kill them. The former employee instead went to the FBI, which recorded a conversation between Martinez and the former employee on how to break into one of the target’s homes.

Martinez allegedly directed his limousine driver, Norman Russell Thellmann, to deliver cash to a hit man who had been promised $100,000 to carry out the hit job.

Thellmann was arrested Friday night and denied that he knew the money was supposed to be used to pay a hit man. However, the FBI discovered $42,000 in a cereal box at his residence. Thellmann was charged Monday with conspiracy to tamper with witnesses.

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