TAX RETURN PREPARER, JACQUELINE J. ARIAS, PLEADS GUILTY AS PART OF TAX FRAUD, MONEY LAUNDERING CONSPIRACIES
United States Attorney Kenneth Allen Polite, Jr. and Deputy Assistant Attorney General Ronald A. Cimino of the Justice Department's Tax Division announced that JACQUELINE J. ARIAS, 39, a tax return preparer from Spruce Pine, Alabama, pleaded guilty today before U.S. District Judge Helen Ginger Berrigan to one count of conspiracy to defraud the United States, five counts of mail fraud, and one count of money laundering conspiracy. As part of her plea, ARIAS admitted to her role in a years-long scheme to defraud the United States by filing false income tax returns that fraudulently claimed large tax refunds. ARIAS, her husband, her tax preparation business, and nineteen other individuals, all of them foreign nationals, have been charged as part of the case. To date, sixteen defendants have entered guilty pleas to various charges.
According to court documents, ARIAS and her co-conspirators filed false returns listing Individual Taxpayer Identification Numbers (ITINs). An ITIN is a tax processing number issued by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) to individuals who do not have, and are not eligible to obtain, a social security number. As alleged in the second superseding indictment, ARIAS was a Certified Acceptance Agent, entrusted by the IRS with the responsibility of reviewing the documentation of an ITIN applicant’s identity and alien status for authenticity, completeness and accuracy before submitting an application to the IRS. The indictment charged that ARIAS filed false applications for ITINs, in addition to false income tax returns, and collected preparation fees from the fraudulently-obtained tax refunds. The indictment also charged ARIAS with filing false tax returns for her corporation, JB Tax Professional Services, and for herself individually.
For each of the mail fraud and money laundering conspiracy charges, ARIAS faces a maximum term of twenty years’ imprisonment. ARIAS also faces a maximum term of imprisonment of five years for conspiring to defraud the United States. All of the charges to which ARIAS pleaded guilty carry the possibility for fines, restitution, and forfeiture. As part of her plea agreement, ARIAS admitted that her actions caused at least $1 million in loss to the government, although she acknowledged that the government would present evidence of a larger loss at her sentencing. ARIAS further agreed to forfeit nearly $400,000 in United States currency seized as part of the case.
“Defrauding the government in the fashion this defendant pleaded guilty to has a direct, negative impact on law-abiding taxpayers,” said Special Agent in Charge Raymond R. Parmer Jr., ICE Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) in New Orleans. “The money stolen from the government in this case might have been used to feed hungry children, pay our soldiers or make needed repairs on a local highway. HSI stands ready with our partners at the IRS and other agencies to hold those who seek to enrich themselves at the expense of others through tax fraud and other criminal schemes accountable for their actions.”
The case was investigated by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, which oversees Homeland Security Investigations; IRS-Criminal Investigation; the U.S. Secret Service; the U.S. Postal Inspection Service; and the Social Security Administration, Office of the Inspector General, in partnership with the St. Tammany Parish, La. and Jefferson Parish, La. Sheriffs’ Departments. The case was prosecuted by Department of Justice, Tax Division Trial Attorneys Hayden Brockett and Kevin Lombardi and AUSA David Haller.
If you believe you have been a victim of fraud from a person or an organization soliciting relief funds on behalf of storm victims or have knowledge of waste, abuse, or allegations of mismanagement involving disaster relief operations, contact the National Center for Disaster Fraud toll free at: (866) 720-5721. You can also fax information to: (225) 334-4707 or e-mail it to: firstname.lastname@example.org