Tax Fraud Blotter: Thanks, mom
Foreign intrigue; stealing green; bringing it home; and other highlights of recent tax cases.
Las Vegas: Preparer Trixa Belloso Rivas, 55, has been sentenced to 14 months in prison and been ordered to pay $2 million in restitution to the IRS.
Between August 2008 and May 2019, Rivas owned and operated the tax prep business BR Tax and Immigration Service. Her co-conspirators obtained passports from citizens of foreign countries such as Guatemala and El Salvador that they used to file fraudulent returns. Over about 34 months, Rivas assisted in filing at least 500 false returns in the names of more than 300 foreign citizens. The IRS issued some $2 million in fraudulent refunds.
Beachwood, Ohio: Aesha Johnson, 42, has been sentenced to more than 17 years in prison for stealing the identities of more than a dozen people and filing false returns. Her daughter, Brittany Williams, previously pleaded guilty and was sentenced to three years of supervised release and ordered to pay $63,708 in restitution.
They used stolen IDs to file false federal returns. Williams filed the false returns online, obtained prepaid debit cards in the names of the victims and requested the IRS deposit the refunds onto those cards.
Johnson was also ordered to pay $63,708 in restitution.
Paola, Kansas: Business owner Steven J. Strauss, 54, has been sentenced to 28 months in prison and ordered to pay $684,792 in restitution to the government for filing a false return.
Strauss, who pleaded guilty in January, owns and operates Classic Tree Care, and admitted that he did not provide accurate information to his preparer and that he owes $684,792 to the IRS. Strauss understated the gross receipts for his business, and from 2012 through 2015 deposited some $1,467,682 in business income into his bank account, over and above what was reported on his returns.
Los Angeles: Former resident Califia Abwoon, 52, has pleaded guilty to one count of theft of government funds in connection to a return that claimed false fuel credits.
From January 2014 to March 2015, Abwoon submitted a series of false federal income tax returns claiming refunds based on fraudulent fuel excise tax credits; she claimed large fuel excise tax credits based on alleged fuel purchases made for non-taxable purposes, such as farming, as well as credits based on the alleged production of blended bio-diesel.
The returns claimed refunds of at least $413,464. Abwoon admitted that during 2013 she falsely claimed her company purchased or produced more than 120,000 gallons of fuels eligible for the credits. Abwoon has never worked in alternative fuel production or blending, has never worked on a farm or in the agricultural industry, and has never purchased liquid fuel for use on a farm for farming.
Sentencing is March 16, when she will face a maximum of 10 years in prison.
Las Vegas: Preparer William Pamintuan Craig, 59, has pleaded guilty to making and subscribing a false return.
Since at least 2012, Craig operated a tax prep business. When preparing his own returns, Craig underreported his taxable income for tax years 2012 to 2017 by approximately $439,000 in total, causing $143,237 in tax loss. When preparing his clients’ returns, Craig purposely and fraudulently claimed sham deductions. Between 2012 and 2017, Craig caused at least $128,000 in tax loss.
Sentencing is Jan. 23. Craig faces a maximum of three years in prison and a $250,000 fine.
Cream Ridge, New Jersey: Tito Viteri, 41, has been sentenced to two years in prison and two years of supervised release for evading more than $2.3 million in personal and corporate income taxes.
Since 2002, Viteri owned and operated commercial trucking companies. Between 2002 and 2011, and in 2015, Viteri evaded the payment of more than $2 million in personal and business-related taxes. In 2008, an IRS audit determined that Viteri owed some $785,000 in unpaid taxes for one of his companies, and that he owed some $315,000 in unpaid personal income taxes. He began making payments to the IRS in 2011 but stopped making those payments in 2013, claiming he was not “bringing enough money home.”
Fort Myers, Florida: Preparer Augustin Dalusma has been found guilty of 12 counts of filing false claims against the IRS and three counts of making or subscribing to false returns.
Between 2012 and 2015, Dalusma falsified information in returns for 630 of his clients, fraudulently qualifying them for thousands of dollars in refunds. False claims filed on behalf of his clients exceeded $4 million over the four years. Dalusma also falsified his own returns from 2012 through 2014, underreporting his own income to evade more than $30,000 in taxes.
He faces a maximum of five years in prison for each count of filing a false claim and up to three years in prison for each count of making a false return. Sentencing is Jan. 27.
Anchorage, Alaska: Jose Luis Arenas, 65, has pleaded guilty to five counts of aiding and assisting in the preparation of false federal individual income tax returns, with a clientele primarily of Spanish-speaking members of the local community, charging them $100 to $600 per return.
Arenas had tax prep training through H&R Block but since 2012 was not a registered preparer. Between tax years 2013 and 2016, he failed to indicate that he filed as a professional preparer. He inflated refunds for clients with false Schedule A deductions such as medical expenses, charitable giving and medical expenses.
Arenas faces a maximum of three years in prison, a fine of up to $250,000, three years of supervised release, five years of probation and restitution.
Macon, Mississippi: Preparer Shelleen Ivory-Farmer has pleaded guilty to aiding and assisting in the preparation and filing of a false return.
From 2012 through April 2016, she managed ABS Tax Services, where she falsified returns by claiming false education credits, itemized deductions, and business and farming losses. The tax loss caused exceeded $1.1 million.
Ivory-Farmer faces a maximum of three years in prison, a period of supervised release and monetary penalties. She agreed to pay $236,887 in restitution to the IRS.
Palm Beach, Florida: Preparer Paul Senat has been convicted of aiding and assisting in the preparation of false returns and theft of government funds.
From at least 2012 to 2016, Senat owned and operated multiple prep businesses. He falsified clients’ returns by reporting fictitious business losses and false education credits to inflate refunds.
Sentencing is Jan. 27. Senat faces a maximum of 10 years in prison for theft of government funds and three years for each count of aiding and assisting in the preparation of false returns. He also faces a period of supervised release, restitution, forfeiture and monetary penalties.
Los Angeles: Jason Newling, 47, has been sentenced to seven years and three months for a wire and tax fraud that defrauded payroll company clients out of more than $5.1 million earmarked for taxing authorities.
Between 2013 and 2017, Newling operated a payroll processing business under varied names, including Aloha HR, Ohana Holdings, Tides Staffing, and Outer Reef (collectively, “Aloha”). He and co-conspirators recruited potential clients by telling them that Aloha would handle clients’ payroll, including paying taxes. Newling and others used the money to pay for their personal expenses and falsified documents to make it appear that tax payments had been made.
Victims lost at least $5.1 million. Restitution was also ordered.