Some of our favorite recent tax fraud cases.
Harvey, La.: Preparer Lisa Adams has been charged with 11 counts of filing or maintaining false public records, 11 counts of computer fraud, two counts of forgery and one count of theft in connection with allegedly falsifying information on her own return and on those of clients of her tax preparation business, Omega Tax Services.
Adams allegedly submitted state tax returns for her clients that contained false business losses for companies that had not sustained any losses and, in some cases, for companies that did not exist.
Investigators interviewed 10 of Adams’ clients; four were business owners who said she fabricated losses on their 2013 returns, and six said she listed business losses on their returns despite their not owning or operating businesses in 2013.
Adams is also accused of falsifying her own tax return, citing losses for a florist shop she claimed she owned in 2013. There is no evidence that business ever existed. She is also charged with falsifying a mortgage interest statement to claim a deduction for a New Orleans property. In that case, she received a fraudulent refund in the amount of $716.
The entire loss from the fraud amounted to $28,458.
Santa Rosa, Calif.: Preparer Efrain Arturo Jovel, 64, has been sentenced to 18 months in prison for filing false returns and failing to report his financial interest in foreign bank accounts.
Jovel pleaded guilty in October to willfully failing to report his financial interest in several foreign bank accounts and to knowingly signing his false 2009 and 2010 federal income tax returns.
According to the plea agreement, Jovel owned and operated a tax prep business for more than 30 years, first out of his home and then out of offices in Santa Rosa. On average, he prepared some 1,800 returns per year.
Jovel admitted that for the tax years 2009 and 2010, he filed personal federal income tax returns on which he did not disclose his accounts at Banco HSBC Salvadoreno SA and Banco Reformador SA. In addition, he did not disclose interest income of $35,104 earned in 2009 and 2010 on the funds held in these accounts.
He also admitted that he willfully underreported gross receipts from his preparation service of $244,120 and $307,846, respectively, resulting in a tax loss of $175,023. Jovel agreed to pay a penalty of $287,896 prior to sentencing.
Jovel was charged on Sept. 9 with one count of willfully violating foreign bank account reporting requirements and two counts of subscribing to false tax returns.
In addition to the 18-month sentence, Jovel also received three years of supervised release and was ordered to pay restitution of $175,023 and a $10,000 fine.
Miami: Three local residents have been sentenced for their roles in a refund scheme.
According to the indictment and facts established at his sentencing hearing, Sean Anthony Lopez, 35, submitted false personal federal income tax returns claiming $625,320 in refunds. He received this refund in connection with his role as a client of an illicit preparation business.
His co-defendants, Claudia Zuloaga, 43, and Sharon Elizabeth Angulo, 49, operated this South Miami-Dade County preparation business under the names Sterling Executive Associates Inc. and Sterling Executive, and assisted Lopez in the preparation of his fraudulent returns, as well as numerous other similarly false returns.
According to the indictment and facts presented at the sentencing, from approximately September 2008 through September 2012, Zuloaga and Angulo recruited numerous clients, including Lopez, by falsely representing that they could eliminate a substantial portion of their debts by obtaining sizable refunds. The scheme involved fraudulent tax returns prepared by Zuloaga and Angulo in exchange for a fee, usually amounting to 30% of the bogus refund.
Zuloaga and Angulo were responsible for submitting multiple fraudulent returns with supporting phony documentation claiming refunds exceeding $5.4 million; Lopez received $2,305,081 in false federal refunds with respect to his fraudulent tax returns.
Zuloaga and Angulo also promoted the “redemption theory” to clients as justification for their fraudulent refund claims. Clients were falsely informed that the submission of returns in this manner allowed them to legitimately access large amounts of money allegedly contained in certain non-existent “straw man” accounts that the defendants claimed were being maintained by the U.S. Treasury for each individual who possessed a Social Security number.
Angulo and Zuloaga were each previously sentenced to serve 60 months in prison. The court also ordered Angulo and Zuloaga to each pay $1,539,873 restitution to the U.S. Treasury. Lopez received 30 months in prison and was ordered to pay $695,635 restitution.
Eastchester, N.Y.: Preparer Louis Ciampanelli, 60, has been arraigned on an indictment charging him with one count of grand larceny in the third degree and two counts of criminal tax fraud in the fourth degree.
Authorities said that between Dec. 14, 2010, and Feb. 13, 2012, Ciampanelli provided personal and business accounting and tax prep services to John Nardini Construction Inc. According to the owner and his wife, rather than pay the IRS or the New York State Tax Department directly, Ciampanelli instructed them to provide him with checks payable to either Louis Ciampanelli or LMC Tax Consultants. Ciampanelli told the victims that he would then, in turn, make the payments on their behalf to the taxing agencies.
He never paid the tax authorities for either their personal or businesses taxes, but instead kept the money. The larceny totaled approximately $47,000.
The case was adjourned to May 20. Ciampanelli faces a maximum of seven years in state prison.
Omaha, Neb.: Preparer Leslie Schulz, 67, has according to published reports been sentenced to two years in prison and three years of supervised release, and ordered to pay $440,924 restitution for filing false federal income tax returns.
Authorities said Schulz was charged with nine counts of filing false claims against the U.S., with his indictment alleging that Schulz, d/b/a Schulz Accounting and Tax Service, conspired to submit fraudulent 1099-OIDs falsely claiming that millions of dollars had been withheld from the income of various taxpayers who in turn claimed they were entitled to refunds.
According to the indictment, Schulz allegedly filed nine separate federal returns falsely claiming, in total, that $6,862,825 had been withheld, resulting in refunds of $4,701,010.
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