Almost no business; happy to take a check; the second time is the charm; and other highlights of recent tax cases.

Matteson, Illinois: Resident Shawn P. Stewart was sentenced to three years in prison for pushing the IRS to issue fraudulent refunds.

He filed eight fraudulent returns claiming more than $ 3.1 million in refunds; the IRS gave him over $ 815,000 in refunds. He started construction companies and other companies that barely did business and used those companies to create W-2s who falsely listed him as earning up to millions of dollars in salary. The high salaries allowed him to list such large federal income tax deductions, and he used the companies’ alleged Schedule E losses to drastically reduce wage income, then claim large refunds.

He used the money to finance a luxurious lifestyle, buying several BMWs and expensive dinners, and shopping in luxury retail stores, among other things.

New York: Tax preparer Carlos De La Torre, 79, of Little Neck, New York, has pleaded guilty to one count of mail fraud and two counts of filing false income tax returns as part of a long-term scheme to stealing from clients and defrauding the IRS and the New York State Department of Taxation and Finance.

From at least 2014 to around 2020, De La Torre, the sole owner of a bookkeeping and preparation business, told clients how much they should have owed in personal and business taxes at the state and federal level. . The clients then gave him checks for these amounts.

Instead of submitting the checks as payments to be applied to clients’ tax debts, De La Torre edited the checks and mailed them to the IRS and New York State as payments from estimated tax to be credited against own personal taxes. These payments far exceeded his own tax obligations each year, and at the end of each tax period, De La Torre fraudulently requested and received refunds from the IRS and New York.

De La Torre stole more than $ 466,000 from the victims through this scheme. He also filed false federal and state returns in connection with this scheme by failing to report this money, defrauding the IRS and New York City of at least $ 91,663 including interest.

He faces more than 20 years in prison when he is sentenced on December 21.

Tucson, Arizona: Former official Keith Bee has pleaded guilty to one count of filing a false tax return, media reported, adding that he was to pay $ 343,000 in restitution and incurs up to 10 months in prison.

Bee, a former state lawmaker who became a justice of the peace in 2007, was indicted in 2018 on three counts of making false statements about statements made by his company, Bee Line Bus Transportation, and a chief of attempt to obstruct an investigation, reported mentioned.

In the plea deal, media said, Bee described how he reduced his tax liability for three years by overestimating his expenses on tax returns, and admitted using personal expenses and depreciation of assets. . According to his 2018 indictment, as cited by press reports, the expenses included payment for sports cars, including six Ford Mustangs, two Corvettes and a Porsche. The reported expenses also included work on residential properties in Arizona and Washington state, including a garage for his cars, a pool and spa, landscaping and custom window treatments.

The indictment said Bee kept checking accounts on behalf of his bus company and used them to pay for personal expenses, adding that the information had been passed to his tax preparer. Bee also claimed several personal vehicles as business vehicles and failed to report a capital gain of $ 178,000 for the 2011 tax year, according to the documents cited.

The IRS began auditing Bee’s statements in 2014, media said, and Bee provided supplier invoices and information that authorities said had been forged to conceal payments for personal items.

Houston: Former tax preparer Marcia Angella Johnson has pleaded guilty to falsely preparing returns following an earlier order not to engage in the business.

She admitted that since 2016 she has been preparing returns for clients even though she is prohibited from doing so. During this time, she prepared numerous returns claiming various fake items on behalf of her clients, including false wages, salaries, tips and credits such as the earned income tax credit, child tax credits and American Opportunity Credit. The United States suffered a loss of at least $ 54,545 in tax revenue.

Johnson admitted to pocketing between $ 13,000 and $ 15,000 after preparing returns each year from 2016 to 2019.

She previously admitted to preparing or helping to prepare approximately 200 false statements; in 2011, the court banned him from running a preparation business.

The sentence is pronounced on November 16. Johnson faces up to three years in prison and a possible fine of $ 100,000. She also agreed to pay restitution to the IRS.

Troy, Illinois: Businessman Gary Hunsche was sentenced to four years in prison for willfully failing to pay millions in federal employment taxes.

Hunsche, who pleaded guilty in May, owned and operated two local recruiting firms: Unique Risk Management and Unique Personal Consultants. The companies employed thousands of workers who were then hired to clients as temporary workers.

Between 2011 and 2016, Hunsche withheld federal income, Social Security, and Medicare taxes from employee paychecks, but never remitted the money to the IRS, resulting in a loss to the United States of over $ 9.4 million.

Hunsche used about $ 4 million of the money for improvements to his personal residence, including an indoor basketball court, barn, lake, and partial construction of a house with a pool.

He was also sentenced to spend 18 months on probation.

Atlanta: Bamidele Muraina, a Nigerian national who hacked into tax preparation companies and filed for unemployment benefits and fraudulent returns using stolen identity information, and Gabriel Kalembo, a previously convicted fraudster who laundered the fraudulent assets, were sentenced to prison.

Muraina was a Nigerian national residing in the Atlanta area. Between at least January 2018 and until around April 2020, Muraina hacked into multiple tax preparation and accounting firms in multiple states, including an accounting firm based in Brunswick, Georgia. Muraina has gained access to companies ‘accounts with a nationwide readiness program, stole their clients’ personal identification information, and filed over 275 fraudulent tax returns on their behalf.

His fraudulent statements demanded IRS refunds in excess of $ 2.6 million.

In May 2020, Muraina used identity information stolen from Washington residents to submit bogus claims for unemployment insurance benefits. His false claims exploited a federal COVID-19 pandemic relief program that expanded eligibility for unemployment benefits and provided an additional unemployment benefit of $ 600 per week. Based on Muraina’s fraudulent claims submitted on behalf of about 50 Washington residents over a week, the state paid more than $ 280,000 in unemployment benefits.

Muraina directed the fraudulent funds from his schemes to be deposited into bank accounts set up by co-conspirators, including Kalembo, who was convicted in 2017 of conspiring to commit bank and electronic fraud in the Northern District of La Georgia. Kalembo recruited Zambian nationals to travel to the United States on tourist visas to establish shell companies in Georgia and open commercial bank accounts on behalf of those companies. After the fraudulent funds were deposited into these accounts, Kalembo laundered the funds by cashing money orders purchased with debit cards linked to the accounts.

Muraina was sentenced to 70 months in prison followed by three years of supervised release; he was also ordered to pay $ 561,125.62 in restitution. Kalembo was sentenced to 50 months in prison followed by two years of supervised release and ordered to pay $ 298,008.71 in restitution.