FORMER DETECTIVE AND TAX PREPARER CONVICTED OF TAX FRAUD
Wifredo A. Ferrer, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Florida, John A. DiCicco, Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General of the Justice Department's Tax Division, and Rhonda A. Diffenbach, Acting Special Agent in Charge, Internal Revenue Service, Criminal Investigation Division (IRS-CID), announced the conviction of defendant Inuka Rhaheed, owner of First Premium Financial Services and a former detective with the Ft. Pierce Police Department, and Wilens Bertrand, a tax preparer at First Premium, on charges of conspiracy to defraud the United States, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 371. The jury also found Rhaheed guilty of two counts, and Bertrand guilty of one count, of preparing false tax returns, in violation of 26 U.S.C. § 7206(2).
Rhaheed’ wife and business partner, Jacqueline Rhaheed, pled guilty to one count of conspiring to defraud the United States on June 2, 2011.
According to evidence introduced at trial, Inuka and Jacqueline Rhaheed owned and worked at 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.
According to the testimony of some of First Premium’s clients, the defendants placed false deductions on client tax returns without the clients’ knowledge or consent. In addition, evidence revealed that First Premium prepared and filed approximately 5,500 tax returns for the 2006-2008 tax years and that approximately 98% of those returns made a claim for a tax refund. The resulting total tax loss to the United States, based on expert testimony at trial, was at least half a million dollars.
According to evidence presented during the trial, clients paid a minimum fee of $300 for tax preparation services at First Premium. Clients included many law enforcement officers, who went to First Premium because they knew Rhaheed was a former law enforcement officer and trusted him and his business to prepare their taxes. In addition, other clients testified that they went to First Premium because of they had heard through word of mouth that First Premium allowed deductions that other tax preparation services would not consider.
Sentencing for all three defendants is scheduled for September 8, 2011 in Fort Pierce, Florida. At sentencing, Inuka Rhaheed faces a maximum sentence of 11 years in prison; Wilens Bertrand faces a maximum sentence of 8 years in prison; and Jacqueline Rhaheed faces a maximum sentence of 5 years in prison.
U.S. Attorney Wifredo A. Ferrer and Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General John A. DiCicco of the Justice Department’s Tax Division commended the investigative efforts of the Criminal Investigation Division of the Internal Revenue Service for their work investigating this case. The case is being prosecuted by Justin Gelfand, Trial Attorney with the U.S. Department of Justice’s Tax Division and Assistant U.S. Attorney Diana M. Acosta of the Southern District of Florida.
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.