Ernst Pierre, a Port St. Lucie, Fla., tax preparer, pleaded guilty today to wire fraud and aggravated identity theft, the Justice Department and Internal Revenue Service (IRS) announced. Pierre was charged with a scheme to file false federal income tax returns using stolen identity information.
According to the indictment and Pierre’s admissions in his plea, from October 2009 through May 2011, Pierre filed false tax returns for clients of Tax Max, a Port St. Lucie tax return preparation business he owned and operated. Pierre obtained the names and Social Security numbers of relatives of clients for whom he had prepared and submitted federal income tax returns and then fraudulently used those names and Social Security numbers as “dependents” on other client tax returns and on his own tax return. Inclusion of a dependent on a federal income tax return can result in a higher tax refund.
Sentencing has been set for July 2, 2012, before the Judge Donald L. Graham of the Southern District of Florida. Pierre faces a maximum potential sentence of 20 years in prison for the wire fraud count and a mandatory two-year sentence for the aggravated identity theft count. Pierre also faces up to $500,000 in fines and an order of mandatory restitution.
This case was investigated by IRS - Criminal Investigation special agents. Trial Attorneys Justin K. Gelfand and Thomas J. Krepp of the Justice Department’s Tax Division are prosecuting the case with the assistance of the U.S. Attorney’s Office in the Southern District of Florida.
Additional information about the Tax Division and its enforcement efforts may be found at www.justice.gov/tax.