Jacksonville Man Charged In Tax Return Fraud
February 4, 2014
Jacksonville, Florida – United States Attorney A. Lee Bentley, III announces the arrest and return by a grand jury of a thirty-five-count indictment charging Thomas Bandzul with tax fraud. Specifically, Bandzul is charged with nineteen counts of assisting in preparing a false tax return, thirteen counts of wire fraud, two counts of filing a false tax return and one count of aggravated identity theft. If convicted, he faces a maximum penalty of 3 years in federal prison for each count of assisting in preparing a false tax return and each count of filing a false return. On each wire fraud count he faces up to twenty years in federal prison. He also faces two years in prison for the aggravated identity theft charge, to be served consecutive to the wire fraud sentence. The indictment also notifies Bandzul that the United States intends to forfeit any assets, which are alleged to be traceable proceeds of the offenses. Bandzul made his initial appearance before United States Magistrate Judge Joel B. Toomey this afternoon. He was released on a $25,000 bond.
According to the indictment, between January 2008 and May 2011, Bandzul was a tax return preparer in Duval and St. Johns counties. As such, he allegedly knowingly and willfully made false claims for deductions and credits on behalf of his clients, which resulted in additional IRS tax refunds. The indictment alleges that, as part of a scheme, Bandzul would prepare and furnish one tax return to his taxpayer client, but then would make false and fraudulent claims on separate tax returns that he actually filed electronically with the IRS. By prearrangement, Bandzul was to be paid a specified fee by his clients out of the anticipated IRS refunds. Bandzul allegedly caused the additional higher tax refunds to be paid to him, through a bank clearinghouse, as additional tax preparation fees, without his clients’ knowledge or consent. In order to avoid detection by the IRS, Bandzul allegedly used various identities beside his own to electronically file tax returns. The tax loss from this scheme is alleged to be in excess of $100,000.
Additionally, the indictment alleges that Bandzul committed tax fraud on his individual tax returns by claiming a total income of $14,945 on his amended 2008 tax return, when he was paid $208,967 in fees, and by claiming $9,536 in total income on his 2009 tax return when he was paid $335,452 in fees. Finally, according to the indictment, Bandzul committed aggravated identity theft by using a client’s name and Social Security Number to electronically file a fraudulent tax return as a tax return preparer and commit wire fraud.
An indictment is merely a formal charge that a defendant has committed a violation of the federal criminal laws, and every defendant is presumed innocent unless, and until, proven guilty.
This case was investigated by the Internal Revenue Service - Criminal Investigation. It will be prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Dale R. Campion.