Former Tax Preparers Sent To Federal Prison For Conspiracy To Defraud The U.s. Treasury
GRAND RAPIDS, MICHIGAN – Chad Anthony Chertos, 37, of Ada, Michigan, was sentenced to 30 months in prison and Gregory Edward VanDyke, 39, of Newaygo, Michigan, was sentenced to 63 months in prison, for conspiring to defraud the U.S. Treasury, U.S. Attorney Patrick Miles announced today. U.S. District Judge Robert J. Jonker also ordered both defendants to pay more than $240,000 in restitution to the U.S. Treasury.
Chertos and VanDyke were business partners and operated under the names “Integrity Tax” and “The Tax Guys.” Chertos and VanDyke admitted participating in a scheme to obtain payment of income tax refunds from the U.S. Department of the Treasury by preparing and filing false federal income tax returns on behalf of some of their clients. Many of those clients, who were told they could obtain significant tax refunds even if they earned little or no earned income, were solicited in a door-to-door sales pitch. In some cases, even if their clients actually earned income, the defendants ignored their clients’ true income information and prepared tax returns reflecting false and fraudulently-inflated income to obtain a substantial refund. Chertos and VanDyke profited in the scheme by taking substantial fees from the fraudulently-obtained refund checks.
At Van Dyke’s sentencing hearing, Judge Jonker expressed serious concern with VanDyke’s “extraordinary” criminal history and high risk for recidivism, and noted that he has a history of “taking advantage of vulnerable people.” As part of their guilty pleas, both defendants agreed to be permanently barred from preparing or filing, or assisting in the preparing or filing, of any federal tax return or documents for any other person or entity.
U.S. Attorney Miles said, “‘Integrity Tax’ was in name only. These former tax preparers abused vital tax credits for the working poor by fraudulently inflating their clients’ earned income or simply making up non-existent income. They took advantage of their clients and the hard working taxpayers of the United States. They will now pay the price for stealing from the American people.”
Erick Martinez, Special Agent in Charge of the Detroit office of the IRS-Criminal Investigation, joined in the announcement of the sentences and said, “Most return preparers are assiduous in performing their duties and play an important role in our tax system by preparing accurate returns for their clients. These defendants used their business to steal from the government and take advantage of their vulnerable clients. This case spotlights the importance of carefully selecting a tax return preparer.”
IRS-Criminal Investigation in Grand Rapids investigated the case, and Assistant U.S. Attorney Christopher O’Connor prosecuted it.