News and Press Releases

FORMER TREASURE COAST TAX PREPARATION BUSINESS OWNER SENTENCED FOR TAX FRAUD

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
November 7, 2011

Wifredo A. Ferrer, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Florida, John A. DiCicco, Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General of the Justice Departments Tax Division, and Jose A. Gonzalez, Special Agent in Charge, Internal Revenue Service, Criminal Investigation (IRS-CI), announced that defendant Jacqueline Rhaheed, former owner of First Premium Financial Services, a tax preparation business with offices in Ft Pierce and Vero Beach, Florida, was sentenced today after pleading guilty to conspiring to defraud the United States in connection with the filing fraudulent income tax returns. U.S. District Court Judge K. Michael Moore sentenced the defendant to twelve (12) months’ and one (1) day incarceration, followed by three years of supervised release. In addition, she was ordered to pay restitution to the Internal Revenue Service in the amount of $727,729.

According to court documents and testimony, Jacqueline Rhaheed and her husband Inuka Rhaheed owned and worked at First Premium Financial Services. Inuka Rhaheed was a former detective with the Fort Pierce Police Department. Co-defendant Wilens Bertrand worked at the Ft. Pierce office of First Premium Financial Services as a tax preparer. 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.

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.

On June 11, 2011, Inuka Rhaheed and Bertrand were convicted after a four-day trial held in Ft. Pierce, Florida. On September 8, 2011, Inuka Rhaheed was sentenced to 78 months in prison and Wilens Bertrand was sentenced to 41 months in prison.

Mr. Ferrer and Mr. DiCicco commended the investigative efforts of the Criminal Investigation Division of the Internal Revenue Service for their work on 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.

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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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