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Highlights - 2010 Archive

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December 24, 2010

Felipo Edmundo Vidal Geraldino Sentenced on Conspiracy to Defraud the Government of Over $2 Million in Tax Refund Checks

On November 22, 2010, in New Jersey, Felipo Edmundo Vidal Geraldino was sentenced on one count of conspiracy to defraud the government. Geraldino was sentenced to 30-months in jail to be followed by three-years of supervised release, and ordered to pay $221,504.79, in restitution and a special assessment in the amount of $100. [1]

From January 2009 through July 2009, Geraldino and his co-conspirators filed several hundred false and fraudulent individual tax returns with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) in the names of more than 300 different individuals across 11 States, including New Jersey, New York, Florida, and Alaska - which yielded more than $2 million in fraudulent Federal income tax refund checks. [2]

Geraldino operated La Bella Campesina, a small grocery store in Newark, prior to his arrest, and deposited the fraudulently obtained refund checks into his business checking account. From there, Geraldino wrote checks to dozens of co-conspirators who cashed the checks for him, took their cuts, and provided Geraldino and the conspiracy's organizers with the majority of the illicit proceeds. [3]

This case was worked jointly by TIGTA, the United States Postal Inspection Service, and the IRS Criminal Investigation Division.
  • [1] Source: District Court of New Jersey, Judgment Document filed on November 22, 2010.
  • [2] Source: AUSA Press Release dated November 18, 2010.
  • [3] Id.
December 17, 2010

Patricia Veals Sentenced for Unauthorized Inspection of Tax Return Information

On November 3, 2010, in Utah, Patricia Veals (also known as Patri Veals) was sentenced on one count of unauthorized inspection of tax return information. Veals was sentenced to 24-months probation, a fine of $1,500, and a $25 special assessment fee. [21]

On June 21, 2009, while working in her capacity as a Federal employee for the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) in Ogden, Utah, Veals willfully accessed and inspected the records of an individual without authorization. Veals did so knowing (having attended numerous unauthorized access training sessions conducted by the IRS) that accessing the account of the individual was unauthorized and unlawful. [2]
  • [1] Source: District Court of Utah, Judgment filed on November 3, 2010.
  • [2] Source: District Court of Utah, Statement by Defendant in Advance of Plea Agreement filed on August 18, 2010.
Patricia Serbera-Robledo Indicted

On November 18, 2010, in California, Abel Robledo and Patricia Serbera-Robledo were indicted and charged with conspiracy to defraud the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and with aiding and assisting in the preparation and presentation to the IRS of false and fraudulent income tax returns. [1]

From approximately March 2005 through June 2007, Abel Robledo, who was incarcerated at the Corcoran State Prison, and Patricia Serbera-Robledo, who was employed by the IRS, conspired to defraud the United States by preparing and submitting or causing to be submitted individual Federal tax returns to the IRS. These tax returns contained false and fictitious information in the names of prisoners. The income tax returns claimed false wage and withholding amounts based on purported hourly earnings by the prisoners at the State minimum wage or higher and claimed false Federal income tax withholdings that did not exist. Once Abel Robledo, Patricia Serbera-Robledo, and others received the fraudulent tax refund checks, the checks were presented to the IRS for payment. The IRS issued tax refunds totaling over $13,000 based on the fraudulent income tax returns. [2]

This case is the product of a joint investigation by TIGTA and the IRS-Criminal Investigation Division. [3]
  • [1] Source: Eastern District of California Indictment filed November 18, 2010.
  • [2] Id.
  • [3] Source: U.S. Department of Justice Press Release dated November 19, 2010.
Tax Practitioner Indicted for Fraud

On November 18, 2010, in California, Yesenia Ramirez was indicted for wire fraud. Ramirez prepared U.S. Individual income tax returns for clients of Patterson Financial, a tax preparation service. Ramirez executed a scheme to defraud clients by means of materially false and fraudulent pretenses. [1]

Ramirez prepared and caused to be prepared accurate Federal income tax returns for clients during the 2006, 2007, and 2008 filing seasons. Ramirez provided clients with purported copies of their tax returns reflecting lower refunds than the clients were actually receiving. Ramirez caused the Federal tax refunds to be deposited into banks accounts that she controlled. She then provided the clients with the lesser refund amounts indicated by the client copies of the tax returns, thereby defrauding the clients of a portion of the tax refunds that they were due. [2]

Ramirez stole at least $54,614 through this scheme. [3]
  • [1] Source: Eastern District of California Indictment filed November 18, 2010.
  • [2] Id.
  • [3] Id.
December 3, 2010

Irvin Catlett Found Guilty of Conspiracy, Aiding and Assisting in the Preparation of False Tax Returns, and Corrupt Endeavor to Impede the Internal Revenue Service

On November 4, 2010, in Maryland, Irvin Hannis Catlett, Jr., was found guilty on twelve charges which include conspiring to defraud the Government, aiding and assisting in the preparation of false tax returns, and corrupt endeavor to obstruct and impede the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). [1]

Former IRS employee Mark Hunt, a co-defendant of Catlett, accepted money from Catlett in return for providing Catlett with sensitive tax return information. At Catlett's request, Hunt used his sign-in name and password to access taxpayers' accounts to obtain the confidential information that Catlett needed to further his business. Hunt was present when Catlett met with potential clients and investors and on some of those occasions Hunt wore IRS identification and was introduced as Catlett's "man on the inside." [2]
  • [1] Source: District Court of Maryland Verdict Form filed November 4, 2010.
  • [2] Source: United States Attorney Plea Agreement Letter filed September 8, 2010.
November 12, 2010

Internal Revenue Service Revenue Officer Sentenced for Making Fraudulent

On October 19, 2010, in Ohio, Joan Butler, was sentenced to two-years probation on one count of making fraudulent statements in the books of the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). Butler was ordered to pay a $2,500 fine and a $100 special assessment. [1]

On or about November 20, 2008, Butler, a Revenue Officer for the IRS, knowingly made fraudulent entries in the books of the IRS and made a fraudulent statement by untruthfully stating that she had made an attempt to visit a business taxpayer. She stated that no representatives of the business taxpayer were present, and that she had taped a calling card to the door of the business taxpayer's place of business demanding a call by November 24, 2008. Butler indicated a plan of action that if she received no response to the calling card, she would follow other IRS procedures and ultimately levy upon the assets of the taxpayer. Whereas in truth, as Butler well knew, she had not made an attempt to contact the business taxpayer, and had not taped a calling card to the door of the business taxpayer's place of business in violation of Title 26, Section 7214(a)(7), United States Code.

Butler subsequently levied upon all of the taxpayer's accounts in three banks without the benefit of a personal visit by a Revenue Officer, which could have afforded the taxpayer the opportunity to negotiate a payment plan or to benefit from other optional procedures for distressed taxpayers, including writing off the arrearage as currently uncollectible and deferring collection until a future year. [2]
  • [1] Source: Northern District of Ohio, Judgment in a Criminal Case filed on October 26, 2010.
  • [2] Source: Northern District of Ohio, AUSA Plea Agreement filed on August 10, 2010.
November 5, 2010

California Tax Preparer Pleads Guilty to Theft of Government Property

On September 30, 2010, in California, Jim Lee Shepherd agreed to plead guilty to one count of theft of government property. In 2008, Shepherd held himself out to be a tax return preparer. In this capacity, he knowingly stole, embezzled, and converted for his own use money belonging to the United States with the intention of depriving the United States of the use and benefit of the money. [1]

Shepherd's tax return business operated out of a church, The New Heaven & Earth Christian Center, in Los Angeles, California. He is listed as the Reverend Jim Shepherd, Ph.D., and as a member of the Board of Directors on the church's Articles of Incorporation filed with the California Secretary of State. Shepherd established a bank account at Union Bank of California in Los Angeles under the church's name and was the only authorized signer on that account. [2]

He was hired by taxpayers in 2008 to prepare their respective 2007 Federal tax returns. As stated on the tax returns that Shepherd prepared, the taxpayers were to receive a combined total of $6,992 from the United States Department of the Treasury. Rather than putting the individual's respective bank account numbers in the section of the tax returns directing where the Federal tax return money should be deposited, Shepherd knowingly and intentionally put the account number of the church's bank account. As a result, in March 2008, the United States Treasury deposited $6,426 into the church's bank account. Also, as a result of Shepherd's actions, in May 2008, the Department of the Treasury deposited economic stimulus money that was intended to be delivered to the respective taxpayers. [3]
  • [1] Source: Central District of California, AUSA Plea Agreement filed on September 30, 2010.
  • [2] Ibid.
  • [3] Ibid.
IRS Employee Indicted for Embezzlement and Theft

On October 5, 2010, in Ohio, Vonda Edmonds was indicted on one count of embezzlement and theft. Beginning on or about September 27, 2005, and continuing thereafter until on or about October 27, 2005, in the Southern District of Ohio, Edmonds, an employee of the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), embezzled taxpayers' payments to the IRS in various amounts which she "kited" through 50 or more transactions over approximately one month until a loss in the amount of $3,915.04 was realized. The funds, to which Edmonds was not lawfully entitled, were converted to her own use. [1]
  • [1] Source: Southern District of Ohio, Indictment filed on October 5, 2010.
October 29, 2010

Man Indicted for Assaulting a Federal Agent with a Deadly Weapon and Using a Firearm in the Commission of a Crime of Violence

On September 28, 2010, in California, Michael Higginbotham was indicted on one count of assault on a Federal officer with a deadly weapon, and one count of using or carrying a firearm during and in relation to a crime of violence. [1]

On or about August 4, 2010, Higginbotham brandished a 12-gauge shotgun and intentionally used force to commit an assault on a Special Agent of the Internal Revenue Service, Criminal Investigation, while the Agent was engaged in the performance of official duties. Higginbotham knowingly used, carried, and brandished the firearm during and in relation to a crime of violence, in violation of Federal law. [2]
  • [1] Source: Northern District of California, Indictment filed September 28, 2010.
  • [2] Ibid.
October 22, 2010

Florida Tax Preparer Sentenced to Six Months of Imprisonment for Making a False Statement to the Internal Revenue Service

On September 22, 2010, in Florida, Maurice Robinson was sentenced on one count of making a false statement to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). Robinson was sentenced to six months of imprisonment, three years of supervised release and ordered to pay a $100 assessment. [1]

Robinson is a tax preparer in the State of Florida. In order to represent clients before the IRS, Robinson filed Form 2848 (Power of Attorney and Declaration of Representative) which stated that he was an enrolled agent. To become an enrolled agent, a person must pass an examination and a background investigation. Robinson has not taken or passed the examination or the background investigation. [2]

On or about April 4, 2008, Assistant United States Attorney (AUSA) I. Randall Gold and TIGTA Special Agents met with Robinson at the U.S. Attorney's Office in Orlando, Florida. During the meeting, Robinson stated, "I am not an enrolled agent." AUSA Gold explained to Robinson that he was not an enrolled agent and could not declare on the Form 2848 that he was an enrolled agent. After Robinson was advised that he was not an enrolled agent, he continued to file 2848 forms with the IRS on behalf of clients falsely stating he was an enrolled agent. [3]
  • [1] Source: District Court, Middle District of Florida, Orlando Division, Judgment in a Criminal Case filed September 22, 2010.
  • [2] Source: District Court, Middle District of Florida, Orlando Division, Plea Agreement filed June 8, 2010.
  • [3] Ibid.
Eddie Kahn Sentenced for Tax Defiance Schemes

On September 2, 2010, in the District of Columbia, Eddie Ray Kahn was sentenced to concurrent terms of 60 months of imprisonment on one count of conspiracy and aiding and abetting, and 240 months on one count of mail fraud. Kahn was ordered to pay a $200 assessment fee and a $25,000 fine. Upon release from imprisonment, Kahn shall be on supervised release for three years on each count, with terms to run concurrently. [1]

Kahn founded and ran American Rights Litigators/Guiding Light of God Ministries (ARL) from 1996 through 2004. During that time, ARL enrolled more than 4,000 customers from all 50 States and the District of Columbia. Other individuals worked with Kahn to develop and sell tax defiance schemes based on deliberate misrepresentations of the legal foundation of the tax system. [2]

The purpose of the tax defiance schemes promoted by these individuals was to thwart the IRS in its attempt to assess and collect taxes by various means. These schemes included manufacturing and selling more than 1000 worthless "bills of exchange" supposedly drawn on the U.S. Treasury for customers to use in purported payment of their taxes. They also included producing false and harassing complaints against IRS employees that were sent to the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA) in Washington, D.C. [3]
  • [1] Source: District of Columbia Judgment filed September 2, 2010.
  • [2] Source: Department of Justice press release dated August 30, 2010.
  • [3] Ibid.
October 15, 2010

Jerry R. Williamson Sentenced for Tax Defiance Schemes

On September 8, 2010, in the District of Columbia, Jerry R. Williamson was sentenced to 10-months imprisonment, five months in a community correctional facility, and five months in home detention for mail fraud and aiding and abetting. He was also sentenced to 36 months of supervised release and ordered to pay a $100 special assessment. [1]

Williamson sold and promoted tax defiance schemes that interfered with the functioning of the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and other taxing authorities. The tax defiance schemes consisted mainly of mass-produced false documents that were mailed on behalf of customers to Government officers across the United States, especially to the IRS and the U.S. Department of the Treasury. The letters were generally prepared for $50 each and declared things such as IRS Revenue Officers (ROs) were without authority to collect taxes, and false announcements that the customer has "expatriated" from the United States and was therefore no longer subject to taxation. Additionally, Williamson prepared letters falsely telling banks that it is against the law for the IRS to levy funds from customer accounts for overdue taxes.

Williamson also participated in a scheme that involved preparing and filing frivolous Uniform Commercial Code documents with State agencies. He further prepared and mailed to creditors fictitious financial instruments that falsely claimed to draw upon the U.S. Treasury to pay taxes and other debts. Williamson encouraged others to send these documents to the U.S. Treasury in Washington, DC, and to various IRS offices in purported payment of their tax debts. [2]
  • [1] Source: District of Columbia Judgment in a Criminal Case filed September 13, 2010.
  • [2] Source: District of Columbia Indictment filed September 3, 2008.
Man Indicted for Wire Fraud in Internet Tax Scheme

On September 14, 2010, in New York, Patrick Ugochukwu Ohazurike was indicted for conspiracy to commit wire fraud. [1] Ohazurike and others conspired to devise and carry out a fraudulent Internet scheme wherein the schemers falsely advised victims that they won a lottery or inherited a fortune. They would then instruct the victims to open bank accounts and wire money into those accounts. The victims were told the money was required to cover taxes or other fees, payment of which was supposedly necessary to receive the non-existent lottery winnings or inheritances. [2]
  • [1] Source: Eastern District of New York Indictment filed September 14, 2010.
  • [2] Source: Eastern District of New York Complaint and Affidavit in Support of Application for Arrest Warrants filed September 7, 2010.
Ronald Hoodenpyle Sentenced for Filing a False Lien Against an IRS Employee

On September 17, 2010, in Colorado, Ronald Hoodenpyle was sentenced to 12-months imprisonment for filing a false lien against a Federal employee. He was also ordered to serve two years of supervised release and ordered to pay a $100 special assessment. [1] On or about April 2, 2008, Hoodenpyle filed in a public record a false lien against the real property of an IRS RO. Hoodenpyle filed a false "Notice of Equity Interest and Claim" against the RO's real property, which contained the false representation that he had a claim against the RO "believed to be in excess of one-million dollars." [2]
  • [1] Source: District of Colorado Judgment in a Criminal Case filed September 23, 2010.
  • [2] Source: District of Colorado Indictment filed January 6, 2009.
Michael Wayne Patterson Indicted for Making a False Threat or Hoax

On September 21, 2010, in Texas, Michael Wayne Patterson was indicted for making a threat or hoax. [1]

On or about August 14, 2010, an envelope containing a plastic ziplock "baggie," filled with an unknown white powder, was delivered to an IRS facility in Austin, Texas. After IRS employees opened the envelope and discovered the white powder, the facility was evacuated. The powder was later tested and was determined to be baking soda. [1]

On or about August 16, 2010, employees at the U.S. Postal Service Dallas Main Post Office discovered an envelope, addressed to a Social Security Administration (SSA) facility in Baltimore, Maryland, leaking white powder. Investigators opened the envelope; and inside was a small piece of foil containing a white powder. The powder was tested and was also determined to be baking soda. [3]

The Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA) Forensic Science Laboratory (FSL) analyzed the handwriting on the envelopes sent to the IRS and to the SSA. The TIGTA FSL determined that the handwriting on the IRS and the SSA envelopes matched and concluded that the handwriting on the envelopes sent to the IRS and the SSA matched the handwriting on two greeting cards Patterson sent to a former girlfriend. Fingerprints found on the greeting cards were also matched to Patterson. [4]
  • [1] Source: Northern District of Texas Indictment filed September 21, 2010.
  • [2] Source: Northern District of Texas Criminal Complaint filed August 26, 2010.
  • [3] Ibid.
  • [4] Ibid.
September 10, 2010

Man Sentenced for Ramming his Vehicle into an IRS Building and Injuring Internal Revenue Service Employees

On August 20, 2010, in Alabama, Ernest Barnett was sentenced to 52 months imprisonment for assaulting, intimidating, and interfering with Federal employees while performing their official duties; 12 months imprisonment for damaging United States property; and 36 months supervised release. He was also ordered to pay $3,075.50 in restitution and a $125 special assessment. [1]

On August 26, 2008, Barnett contacted the IRS by telephone to discuss a longstanding tax debt. He became upset during the call and handed the telephone to his wife twice. When he passed the phone to his wife the second time, minutes later she was heard to cry out, "Oh my God, he went and got the gun." She then screamed and the call ended abruptly. [2]

The IRS employee on the telephone became concerned that Barnett might harm himself or others and contacted local officials. A Jefferson County Sheriff's dispatcher called Barnett who said he did not need any help. However, he told the dispatcher before hanging up, "In about ten minutes, my life will be over with, so don't worry about me." [3]

Barnett drove his Jeep Cherokee Sport Utility Vehicle to a building where IRS offices are located and rammed the vehicle into one of the building's windows. Barnett then backed up a few feet and struck the building a second time. Two IRS employees sustained physical injuries as a result of Barnett's attack. [4]

  • [1] Source: Northern District of Alabama Judgment in a Criminal Case dated August 20, 2010.
  • [2] Source: Department of Justice Press Release dated August 24, 2010, Northern District of Alabama Indictment filed December 1, 2008, and Government's Sentencing Memorandum filed July 27, 2010.
  • [3] Ibid.
  • [4] Ibid.
January 11, 2010

Man Charged With Making a Threat in Interstate Commerce and Interfering With the Administration of Internal Revenue Laws

On December 16, 2009, in Utah, Michael Wight was charged with making a threat in interstate commerce and interfering with the administration of Internal Revenue laws. [1]

Wight controls a MySpace page that clearly bears his photograph, confirmed using public record databases, holding a firearm. [2] The MySpace page also contained another photograph showing a number of firearms lying on a bed. Underneath the photograph of the firearms lying on the bed was written " ... I also dedicate this to the INTERNAL REVENUE SERVICE ACS Collection Manager [name deleted... ]...who steals My money every Month for the last 2 1/2 years I got Your Vengance [sic] and Justice Coming to You all with My Guns...These Guns and others like them will Insure Your Death and the return of Freedom in America! ..." The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) confirmed that the person named in Wight's posted MySpace threat is a real person employed by the IRS.

  • [1] Source: District of Utah Indictment filed December 16, 2009.
  • [2] Source: District of Utah Felony Complaint filed December 4, 2009.

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