Baltimore Resident Indicted for Allegedly Filing Claims for over $23 Million in Fraudulent Tax Refunds

Allegedly Filed Fraudulent Claims for Over $22 Million in Alternative Fuel Tax Credits and Refunds

September 13, 2012

Baltimore, Maryland - A federal grand jury has returned a superseding indictment today alleging that Makushamari Gozo, age 40, a native of Zimbabwe residing in Baltimore, Maryland, filed claims for more than $23 million in fraudulent tax refunds. The original four-count indictment was returned on July 19, 2012, and unsealed upon Gozo’s arrest on July 20, 2012.

The indictment was announced by United States Attorney for the District of Maryland Rod J. Rosenstein and Special Agent in Charge Rick A. Raven of the Internal Revenue Service - Criminal Investigation, Washington, D.C. Field Office.

“The indictment charges that Makushamari Gozo received $180,000 in fraudulent federal tax refunds and tried to collect more than $22 million in tax credits and refunds for over 39 million gallons of alternative fuel that he falsely claimed his sham companies had purchased,” said U.S. Attorney Rod J. Rosenstein.

“Submitting false claims to the IRS seeking erroneous tax refunds is a crime,” said Rick A. Raven, Special Agent in Charge, IRS Criminal Investigation, Washington DC Field Office. “Schemes to defraud the government out of honest taxpayer’s money are senseless acts. Today’s indictment reaffirms that there is no legal way for individuals to obtain fraudulent tax refunds without consequence.”

According to the superseding indictment, between March 1998 and May 2002, Gozo incorporated five businesses in Maryland to engage in real estate transactions. By October 2004, all of the entities were forfeited by the State of Maryland for failure to pay property taxes.

The 18-count superseding indictment alleges that beginning in 2009, Gozo re-incorporated or reinstated each of the five businesses, then used those entities to file fraudulent claims for tax refunds. Specifically, Gozo filed individual income tax returns claiming that for tax years 2007 through 2011, he earned wages from two of the companies and was entitled to tax refunds totaling more the $417,000. In addition, the indictment charges that Gozo filed tax returns claiming that a third company had sustained losses in tax years 2007 through 2009, which entitled Gozo to more than $76,000 in tax refunds. According to the indictment, between October 31, 20011 and February 17, 2012, Gozo also filed false excise tax returns claiming that a fourth company was entitled to approximately $22,657,137 in alternative fuel tax refunds and credits based on having purchased or used over 39 million gallons of alternative fuel.

Gozo faces a maximum sentence of five years in prison on each of the 18 counts of making a false claim. No court appearance has been scheduled. Gozo has been detained since his arrest on July 20, 2012.

An indictment is not a finding of guilt. An individual charged by indictment is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty at some later criminal proceedings.

United States Attorney Rod J. Rosenstein praised the IRS Criminal Investigation for its work in the investigation. Mr. Rosenstein thanked Special Assistant United States Attorney David I Sharfstein of the U.S. Justice Department, Tax Division, who is prosecuting the case.

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