So busted; many clients, not one business; plenty for wife and girlfriend; and other highlights of recent tax cases.

Harrisburg, Pa.: Preparer Geraldo Ramos, 44, has pleaded guilty to conspiracy to submit false claims and submitting false claims against the United States regarding income tax refunds.

According to authorities, between 2010 and 2014 Ramos acted as a preparer and filed numerous false and fraudulent tax returns for family and friends claiming $58,659 in undeserved refunds. The fraudulent returns included misrepresenting Schedule C income, listing fictitious dependents and manipulating filing status.

The IRS paid the conspirators $52,711, which was shared with Ramos.

Whitman, Mass.: Former police sergeant Glenn P. Pearson, 61, has been sentenced to 48 months in prison for preparing false income tax returns for clients of his prep business, obstructing the internal revenue laws and misappropriating funds from the accounts of disabled veterans while he was a fiduciary appointed by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.

According to court documents, from 2007 to 2012 Pearson was appointed a VA fiduciary for eight disabled veterans of the U.S. armed forces. Pearson used his position to embezzle more than $250,000 in VA-issued benefit money from the accounts of several veterans.

Beginning in 2012, Pearson also operated FTS Tax Services, a prep business through which he prepared false tax returns for clients for a fee. From 2012 through 2015, he prepared numerous returns that included false credits and fictitious deductions to obtain inflated and undeserved refunds for clients.

When Pearson’s clients were audited, he took steps to obstruct the IRS, including making false statements and preparing false documents for his clients to submit during the audits. Pearson also falsely underreported his own income on his personal federal income tax returns.

Pearson, who admitted to causing a total tax loss of more than $1.5 million, was also ordered to serve three years of supervised release and to pay $252,992 in restitution to the VA and $826,865 in restitution to the IRS.

Pearson pleaded guilty in May to wire fraud, misappropriation by a federal fiduciary, preparation of fraudulent returns and obstructing the internal revenue laws.

Topeka, Kan.: Preparer Maurice L. Stewart, 40, has been sentenced to two years in prison and a year of supervised release and been ordered to pay $93,402 in restitution to the IRS after pleading guilty to aiding and assisting in the preparation and filing of false returns, according to published reports.

Stewart reportedly prepared federal income tax returns for a variety of individuals, charging between $100 and $300. Authorities told news outlets that returns prepared by Stewart often included false Schedules C. From February 2011 to March 2013, Stewart reportedly filed the returns showing they were self-prepared, when in truth they were prepared by Stewart with falsely prepared Schedules C showing a loss to decrease tax due and inflate clients’ refunds.

Stewart e-filed the returns using the IP address of a Topeka business where he formerly was employed as an online IT technical services coordinator, reports said, adding that he prepared returns using an online program where he had opened an account using another person’s name.

Atlanta: A federal court has permanently barred Tarralis K. Mack, individually and d.b.a. Metro Tax Advisors, from preparing federal returns for others.

Mack, who consented to the civil injunction order, previously pleaded guilty to willfully aiding or assisting in, or procuring counseling, or advising the preparation or presentation of a false or fraudulent amended income tax return.

According to the complaint, Mack prepared federal income tax returns for clients that generated fraudulent refunds by creating fictitious business expenses to offset wage income. The complaint alleges that none of these clients owned any businesses and Mack did not request information to substantiate the business income and expenses he claimed on the returns.

Returns prepared by Mack and audited by the IRS claimed $481,302 in fraudulent refunds, according to the complaint.

Winston-Salem, N.C.: Local resident Shannon DeWayne Patterson has pleaded guilty to aiding and assisting in the preparation of a fraudulent return.

According to court documents and information, between 2006 and 2016 Patterson was an attorney licensed to practice in Georgia. Between January and May 2015, he also co-owned and operated the prep businesses Fast Tax in Salisbury and Kannapolis, N.C. Patterson employed several individuals to prepare clients’ returns and instructed employees to fabricate information on clients’ returns to maximize refunds.

Patterson admitted to aiding and assisting in the preparation of fraudulent returns that sought more than $60,000 in phony refunds. He also admitted filing false personal returns for 2014 and 2015 on which he underreported his income.

Sentencing is April 12, when Patterson faces a maximum of three years in prison, a period of supervised release, restitution and monetary penalties.

Philadelphia: Local resident Steeve Zamor, 28, has been sentenced to 22 months in prison for ID theft and conspiring to file fraudulent tax refund claims.

According to court documents and information, Zamor conspired with others to use stolen IDs to file phony federal returns seeking tax refunds. Although he did not have a prep business, Zamor opened a bank account in the name of “Steeve Zamor Tax Services” to facilitate the crime and had the IRS deposit the stolen refunds.

Zamor withdrew from the account to pay co-conspirators and kept a substantial portion for his own use. He admitted to causing a tax loss of $366,135.53.

He was also ordered to serve three years of supervised release and to pay $366,135.53 in restitution to the IRS.

Boston: CPA Greg Takesian, 53, of Miami, has been convicted on four counts of filing false returns and one count of attempting to obstruct and impede the IRS.

Takesian worked for Takesian & Co., a tax consulting firm owned by his father. Although Takesian ran the day-to-day business, he did not have an ownership stake in the company. Between 2008 and 2011, Takesian & Co. received more than $2 million for tax and consulting services from At Home VNA, a home health company located in Waltham, Mass.

Takesian spent more than $991,000, taken from Takesian & Co.’s bank account, on personal expenses, including more than $500,000 on his wife and $200,000 on his girlfriend. He also spent the money on Caribbean cruises, expensive clothing and nightclubs.

After learning of the federal investigation, Takesian filed false corporate and personal amended returns in an effort to cover up the nearly $1 million of unreported income.

Sentencing is Feb. 3, when Takesian faces up to three years in prison, a year of supervised release and a fine of $100,000 on each count.

“We’re appealing the verdict, and until all my legal rights have been adjudicated, we’re going to continue the fight,” he told Accounting Today.

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Jeff Stimpson

Jeff Stimpson

Jeff Stimpson is a veteran freelance journalist who previously served as editor of The Practical Accountant.