Washington (Aug. 19, 2004) -- A Columbus, Ohio, tax return preparer was found guilty in a sale-leaseback scheme that bilked at least four clients out of as much as $25,000 each, the Department of Justice announced.

As a part of a scheme to create false deductions for his clients, the DoJ said Christopher M. Streifender, 53, solicited investments from his clients into fraudulent “sale-leaseback” agreements that he represented would allow them to purchase property from a third party and generate a return on their investment by leasing the property back to the original owner. Streifender kept the money and used it to pay previous clients and for his own benefit, the DoJ said.

According to the DoJ, Streifender defrauded at least four clients out of $12,500 to $25,000 each and allegedly laundered the funds obtained through a bank account held in a nominee name.

Streifender was found guilty by a federal jury on two counts of mail fraud, one count of wire fraud, six counts of money laundering, and 13 counts of aiding and assisting in the preparation of fraudulent tax returns, the Justice Department said. He faces a maximum of 114 years in prison and $4.5 million in fines as well as the costs of prosecution. A sentencing date has not yet been set.

Streifender was acquitted on three counts of mail fraud, four counts of money laundering, four counts of aiding and assisting the preparation of fraudulent tax returns, and obstruction of justice.

-- WebCPA staff

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