A 70-year-old Southern California tax preparer pleaded not guilty Monday in federal court to allegations that he aided and assisted in the preparation of false tax returns and endeavored to obstruct the administration of the Tax Code.

Mario Placencia of Alhambra, Calif., was charged in a 62-count indictment obtained by prosecutors earlier this month. The indictment alleges that Placencia aided and assisted in the preparation of fraudulent returns for the 2004 through 2008 tax years and submitted false documents to the IRS in an attempt to substantiate the deductions taken on those false returns. 

The indictment alleges that Placencia aided and assisted in the preparation of 61 individual income tax returns upon which he overstated Schedule A deductions that his clients were not entitled to claim. Prosecutors also claim that on three returns Placencia included a false Schedule C claiming business income and expenses that Placencia knew the individuals were not entitled to claim. The false Schedules A and C allowed Placencia’s clients to claim tax refunds to which they were not entitled.

Placencia is also alleged to have obstructed and impeded the administration of the tax laws by causing false charitable donation letters and false Forms 1098 to be submitted to the IRS. An IRS Form 1098 details the amount of interest and mortgage-related expenses paid on a mortgage during the tax year. The false forms were submitted in order to substantiate deductions on client’s income tax returns that were the subject of an audit or appeal.

According to the indictment, the false documents used the names of businesses such as Countrywide Home Loans, LA Great American Mortgage, Leap Frog Investments and M.A.W. Children’s Centers.

At the conclusion of Monday’s hearing, Placencia was released on bond. His trial date is scheduled for June 21, 2011 before U.S. District Judge S. James Otero.

If convicted of all of the charges contained in the indictment, Placencia faces up to 186 years in prison and fines totaling $15,500,000.

Placentia was unavailable when his office was contacted.

The investigation and prosecution of Placencia was conducted by IRS - Criminal Investigation and the Treasury Department’s Office of Inspector General for Tax Administration, in conjunction with the Tax Division of the United States Attorney’s Office in Los Angeles.

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