An tax preparer was sentenced to 57 months in prison for filing false claims with the Internal Revenue Service using the identification of a dead tax return preparer whose practice he had acquired and preparing false documents for numerous fraudulent loans and tax returns.

Todd P. Halpern, 49, previously pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge William J. Martini to an information charging him with one count of filing false claims and one count of wire fraud. Judge Martini imposed the sentence today in Newark federal court. Halpern was arrested in 2012 (see Man Arrested for Using Dead Preparer’s Identity to File Tax Returns).

Halpern purchased A & V Financial, a tax return preparation business, in Guttenberg, N.J., in late 2008, from the wife of the prior owner, identified only as “V.R.,” who had died in March 2008. Halpern received the company’s computers and all of its client records. As part of the agreement to purchase A & V, Halpern was supposed to obtain a new Electronic Filing Identification Number in his own name. Instead, he continued to file tax returns using V.R.’s EFIN because Halpern’s criminal record prevented him from obtaining his own EFIN.

From 2009 through 2010, Halpern prepared and filed 657 fraudulent federal income tax returns with the IRS using V.R.’s EFIN, according to prosecutors.

Halpern allegedly prepared and filed some of these fraudulent tax returns without the knowledge and authorization of the taxpayers identified on the returns. Some of these tax returns allegedly contained fraudulent income and deduction amounts, which generated fraudulent refunds that were directly deposited into Halpern’s bank account.

On June 24, 2009, Halpern prepared and filed a fraudulent 2008 U.S. Individual Income Tax Return 1040 form with the IRS in the name of B.G., which fraudulently claimed an income tax refund in the amount of $13,183, according to prosecutors. The 2008 1040 form prepared by Halpern contained false income and deduction entries for B.G., because B.G. did not have any income for that tax year and did not file an income tax return. The $13,183 tax refund was directly deposited into Halpern’s bank account.

Halpern received a total of $373,938 in fraudulent tax refunds. He used these funds to support a lavish lifestyle, including purchases at Prada, Chanel, Saks Fifth Avenue, and Bloomingdales, to acquire season tickets to the New York Giants, to purchase thousands of dollars in jewelry, gold coins, and silver certificates, to make car payments on multiple luxury vehicles, including a 2007 Cadillac Escalade and a 2008 Lexus GX-470, and to buy parts for his classic 1957 Chevy Bel Air.

From January 2008 through May 2012, Halpern prepared false documents for numerous fraudulent loans from financial institutions. Halpern prepared tax returns, W-2 forms, and bank statements showing inflated income and asset balances to be used to support loan applications for borrowers, including him, to acquire mortgage loans, mainly for residential properties in New Jersey, along with other personal and business loans. Halpern and others allegedly caused the fraudulent documents to be submitted to mortgage lenders, other financial institutions, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, and the Federal Housing Administration, which were relied upon for the approval of mortgage and other loans.

In November 2009, Halpern bought a home in Bloomfield, N.J., in a short sale of approximately $185,000. To fund his purchase, he received an FHA-insured mortgage loan of $181,649 from a New Jersey-based mortgage company. Halpern and others allegedly submitted numerous fraudulent documents to FHA and to the mortgage company, including false bank statements, pay stubs and 2008 federal income tax returns in his and his wife’s names, according to prosecutors. As in his tax fraud scheme, the false tax returns that Halpern prepared reflected the deceased tax preparer’s identification number in an effort to conceal that Halpern had personally prepared the tax returns.

At the plea hearing, Judge Martini entered a consent judgment and order of forfeiture for $373,938 and for a classic 1957 Chevy Bel Air, which were the proceeds that Halpern received as a result of his frauds. In addition to the 57-month prison term, Judge Martini also sentenced Halpern to serve five years of supervised release and pay restitution of $1.3 million.

U.S. Attorney Paul Fishman credited special agents of the FBI, under the direction of special agent in charge Aaron T. Ford; special agents of IRS – Criminal Investigation, under the direction of acting special agent in charge Jonathan D. Larsen; and special agents of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, Office of Inspector General, under the direction of special agent in charge Cary Rubenstein, with the investigation leading to Wednesday’s sentencing.

The government was represented on the case by senior litigation counsel Leslie Faye Schwartz of the U.S. Attorney’s Office Criminal Division in Newark. The case was also brought in coordination with President Obama’s Financial Fraud Enforcement Task Force.

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