WASHINGTON – Inuka Rhaheed, owner of First Premium Financial Services and a former detective with the Fort Pierce, Fla., Police Department, and Wilens Bertrand, a tax preparer at First Premium, on charges of conspiracy to defraud the United States. The jury also found Rhaheed guilty of two counts, and Bertrand guilty of one count, of preparing false tax returns
Today’s convictions were announced by Wifredo A. Ferrer, U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Florida; John A. DiCicco, Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General of the Justice Department’s Tax Division; and Rhonda A. Diffenbach, Acting Special Agent in Charge, Internal Revenue Service – Criminal Investigation (IRS-CI).
Rhaheed’s wife and business partner, Jacqueline Rhaheed, pleaded guilty to one count of conspiring to defraud the United States on June 2, 2011.
According to evidence introduced at trial, Inuka and Jacqueline Rhaheed owned and worked at First Premium Financial Services, a tax preparation business with offices in Fort Pierce and Vero Beach, Fla. Wilens Bertrand worked at the Ft. Pierce office of First Premium Financial Services as a tax preparer.
According to the testimony of some of First Premium’s clients, the defendants placed false deductions on client tax returns without the clients’ knowledge or consent. In addition, evidence revealed that First Premium prepared and filed approximately 5,500 tax returns for the 2006-2008 tax years and that approximately 98 percent of those returns made a claim for a tax refund. The resulting total tax loss to the United States, based on expert testimony at trial, was at least $500,000.
According to evidence presented during the trial, clients paid a minimum fee of $300 for tax preparation services at First Premium. Clients included many law enforcement officers, who went to First Premium because they knew Rhaheed was a former law enforcement officer and trusted him and his business to prepare their taxes. In addition, other clients testified that they went to First Premium because of they had heard through word of mouth that First Premium allowed deductions that other tax preparation services would not consider.
Sentencing for all three defendants is scheduled for Sept. 8, 2011 in Fort Pierce. At sentencing, Inuka Rhaheed faces a maximum sentence of 11 years in prison; Wilens Bertrand faces a maximum sentence of eight years in prison; and Jacqueline Rhaheed faces a maximum sentence of five years in prison.
U.S. Attorney Wifredo A. Ferrer and Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General John A. DiCicco of the Justice Department’s Tax Division commended the investigative efforts of the IRS-CI for their work investigating this case. The case is being prosecuted by Justin Gelfand, Trial Attorney with the U.S. Department of Justice’s Tax Division and Assistant U.S. Attorney Diana M. Acosta of the Southern District of Florida.