The Newark Field Office of the Internal Revenue Service’s Criminal Investigation division has stepped up its efforts this year to investigate tax fraud and other financial crimes.

The special agents in IRS-Criminal Investigation investigate three types of cases; legal source, illegal source and narcotics/terrorist financing. Legal source tax cases are the bread-and-butter cases worked by IRS special agents. Legal source tax investigations involve taxpayers in legal industries and legal occupations, who earn income legally, but choose to evade taxes by violation of tax laws.

“Year-round efforts of IRS-Criminal Investigation are directed at that portion of Americans who willfully and intentionally violate their legal duty to voluntarily file lawful and accurate tax returns and those individuals who commit other related financial crimes” said Victor W. Lessoff, special agent in charge of IRS Criminal Investigation’s Newark Field Office. “The prosecution of these individuals is a vital element in fostering confidence in our tax system and compliance with the law."

IRS Criminal Investigation is the law enforcement arm of the IRS. Its cases support the Internal Revenue Service’s overall compliance goals. Examples of recent legal source tax cases handled by the Newark Field Office include:

• Johnlee Katsaros, a resident of Marlton, N.J. Katsaros was a 50 percent owner of Elite Catering, a business providing banquet and catering services in Voorhees, N.J. Katsaros admitted failing to report income he received through Elite Catering relating to his 50 percent ownership in the business.

• Roger McMillin, a resident of Morris County, N.J., who pleaded guilty to failing to file his personal tax returns for the 2005 and 2006 calendar years. McMillin was the president and sole owner of The McMillin Group Inc., a business that provided management and human resources consulting services.

• Cristian Mejia-Frias, who pleaded guilty in Trenton federal court to one count of conspiracy to defraud the United States, for conspiring with other individuals to fraudulently cash federal income tax refund checks. He was sentenced to 22 months in prison.

The Illegal Source Financial Crimes Program recognizes that money gained through illegal sources is part of the untaxed underground economy. When money is derived through illegal sources, the primary concern for the criminal is to legitimize the dollars. This process of "cleaning" the illegally obtained dollars is termed money laundering. Money laundering activity is considered to be tax evasion in progress. Examples of recent illegal source cases are:

• Abiatu Umah and Emmanuel Awa, both of South Orange, N.J., who were recently sentenced to 48 months and 38 months in prison, respectively. The two men were sentenced for their roles in a scam that used phony identification documents to set up various checking accounts to launder and steal more than $1 million.

IRS-Criminal Investigation plays a role in the federal law enforcement effort to battle narcotics trafficking by utilizing the financial investigative expertise of its special agents to disrupt and dismantle, through investigation, prosecution and asset forfeiture, the country's major drug and money laundering organizations. This includes both domestic and international narcotics traffickers and related money laundering organizations. Many of these investigations are worked jointly with our law enforcement counterparts in the DEA and FBI, as well as state and local law enforcement. Examples of individuals who were recently sentenced for their roles in narcotics related investigations are:

• Jader Gomez, who was extradited from Colombia, convicted in federal court in Manhattan and sentenced to 96 months in prison.

• Faustino Garza, sentenced to 66 months in prison.

• Juan Fernando Riascos, sentenced to 44 months in prison.

• Paolo Gomez, who was extradited from Panama, convicted in federal court in Manhattan and sentenced to 25 months in prison.

• Hilario Martinez Garcia, sentenced to 24 months in prison.

For more information about IRS-Criminal Investigation, visit the IRS Web site at irs.gov and type in the keywords Criminal Investigation.

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