News and Press Releases

Four Defendants in Tax Fraud Scheme Sentenced to Prison

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
December 19, 2013

PANAMA CITY, FLORIDA — United States Attorney Pamela C. March announced the sentencing of four defendants by United States District Judge Richard Smoak today. 

Wilson Calle, 55, of New York, New York, Blaine Johnston, 62, of Marianna, Florida, Wilfredo Rodriguez, 53, and Diana Gonzalez, 63, both of Miami, Florida, were all sentenced today, based on charges brought against them by the U.S. Attorney’s Office, alleging various federal tax violations.  During a federal trial in September, Calle and Johnston were found guilty by a federal jury of conspiring to defraud the United States by filing, or assisting others in filing, false federal income tax returns, and multiple counts of filing false federal income tax returns.  Rodriguez was found guilty by the jury of filing a false federal income tax return seeking a false and fraudulent refund.  Gonzalez had previously entered a guilty plea to the charge of conspiracy to defraud the United States by filing, or assisting others in filing, false federal income tax returns seeking false and fraudulent refunds. 

The sentences imposed today by Judge Smoak for each defendant are as follows:

  • Wilson Calle was sentenced to 78 months in prison and was ordered to pay restitution to the Internal Revenue Service in conjunction with other defendants in the amount of $245,747.32;
  • Blaine Johnston was sentenced to 78 months in prison and was ordered to pay restitution to the Internal Revenue Service in conjunction with other defendants in the amount of $245,747.32;
  • Wilfredo Rodriguez was sentenced to 27 months in prison and was ordered to pay restitution to the Internal Revenue Service in the amount of $160,490.93; and
  • Diana Gonzalez was sentenced to 63 months in prison and was ordered to pay restitution to the Internal Revenue Service in conjunction with other defendants in the amount of $245,747.32.

In announcing the sentence imposed by the court, United States Attorney Marsh said, “In these difficult economic times, tax refund fraud is especially harmful to our communities and our nation.  It harms the government, as well as every honest taxpayer who dutifully pays taxes.  We will continue to aggressively pursue those who defraud and illegally manipulate the tax system, especially those individuals who concoct schemes to submit false tax returns and assist others in doing so.”

During the jury trial, the prosecutors presented evidence that, between 2008 and 2009, the defendants prepared and filed fraudulent tax returns seeking more than $19 million in refunds.  By using an obscure IRS Form 1099-OID, the defendants falsely reported that creditors of the defendants and their clients had withheld large amounts of federal income taxes and asserted that the creditors had paid those amounts over to the IRS.  In doing so, the defendants fraudulently reported debts they owed as income tax withholdings.  As a result of the fraudulently overstated income tax withholding, the tax returns filed on behalf of the defendants or their clients claimed large refunds, to which they were not entitled.
The case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys J. Ryan Love and Randall J. Hensel.  

 

 

 

 

 

 

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