News and Press Releases

FORT PIERCE COUPLE AND PORT ST. LUCIE MAN INDICTED FOR TAX FRAUD

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
April 15, 2011

Wifredo A. Ferrer, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Florida, Kimberly A. Lappin, Acting Special Agent in Charge, Internal Revenue Service, Criminal Investigation Division (IRS-CID), announce the April 14, 2011 indictment of defendants Inuka Rhaheed and Jacqueline Rhaheed, of Fort Pierce, and Wilens Bertrand, of Port St. Lucie, on charges of conspiracy to defraud the United States, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 371, and aiding and assisting in the preparation of false documents in relation to federal income taxes, in violation of 26 U.S.C. § 7206(2). The Rhaheeds, husband and wife, made their initial appearance in court earlier this morning before U.S. Magistrate Judge Frank J. Lynch, Jr. Defendant Bertrand is expected to appear on Monday.

If convicted, the defendants face a maximum statutory term of imprisonment of five years on the of the conspiracy count, and three years on each false document count.

According to the indictment, Inuka and Jacqueline Rhaheed owned and operated First Premium Financial Services, a tax preparation business with offices in Fort Pierce and Vero Beach. Wilens Bertrand worked at the Ft. Pierce office of First Premium Financial Services as a tax preparer. Both Rhaheeds prepared tax returns and supervised other tax preparers.

The indictment alleges that the defendants represented to clients that they and First Premium Financial Services could obtain maximum refunds for them on their income tax returns. The defendants recruited clients and advertised by word, specifically targeting public servants, including police officers and firefighters, claiming to have special expertise in handling tax returns for persons in those professions.

The indictment further alleges that the defendants prepared income tax returns for clients, using false or inflated expense deductions. Inuka Rhaheed and Jacqueline Rhaheed would also review the returns prepared by other tax preparers at First Premium Financial Services, and directed preparers to add false expense deductions to claim inflated and unmerited tax refund payments for those clients. The defendants and First Premium Financial Services allegedly charged clients extra fees for additional schedules prepared as part of client tax returns. In this way, the defendants defrauded the United States of tax revenue. The total tax loss to the United States from the defendants’ scheme was more than $700,000 for the tax years 2006, 2007 and 2008.

U.S. Attorney Ferrer commended the investigative efforts of the IRS - Criminal Investigation Division for their work investigating this case. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Theodore Cooperstein.

An indictment is merely an allegation, and every defendant is presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.

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A copy of this press release may be found on the website of the United States Attorney's Office for the Southern District of Florida at http://www.usdoj.gov/usao/fls. Related court documents and information may be found on the website of the District Court for the Southern District of Florida at http://www.flsd.uscourts.gov or on http://pacer.flsd.uscourts.gov.

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