Tax Preparer Pleads Guilty to Filing False Tax Returns and Assisting in the Preparation of False Tax Returns for Others
Greenbelt, Maryland - Raymond Ekpedeme, age 47, of Laurel, Maryland, pleaded guilty today to aiding and assisting in the preparation of false tax returns and making false statements on tax returns, announced United States Attorney for the District of Maryland Rod J. Rosenstein.
“While most tax return preparers provide excellent service to their clients, a few unscrupulous tax preparers file false and fraudulent tax returns to defraud the government, the tax paying public, and their own clients. Taxpayers should choose carefully when hiring a tax preparer. IRS-Criminal Investigation is determined to stop these false tax refund schemes. The message this case sends is that participation in refund fraud schemes does not pay and those who do will be prosecuted,” stated C. Andre' Martin, Internal Revenue Service-Criminal Investigation Special Agent in Charge.
According to the plea agreement, between the Spring 2002 and the Spring 2006,Raymond Ekpedeme operated Erickson Tax Service, located in Hyattsville, Maryland, through which he prepared federal income tax returns for his clients. For tax years 2001-2005, Ekpedeme prepared and electronically filed with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) fraudulent tax returns that included: inflated and/or false charitable contributions or employee business expenses; inflated and/or false education credits; and false child and dependent care expenses. For example, on April 5, 2005, an undercover IRS-CI agent went to Ekpedeme’s business to have Ekpedeme prepare a 2004 tax return. Ekpedeme met with the undercover agent and prepared and electronically transmitted a fraudulent tax return to the IRS which claimed a refund in the amount of $1,391. The fraudulent tax return consisted of fictitious deductions, including: falsified gifts to charity in the amount of $3,080; falsified expenses in the amount of $4,250; falsified job-related expenses of $857; and a false deduction for tuition and fees in the amount of $4,000. The loss figure associated with Ekpedeme’s aiding and assisting in the preparation and presentation of false tax returns for tax years 2001-2005 is between $200,000 and $400,000.
In addition, Ekpedeme filed false personal tax returns for tax years 2001 to 2004. For example, on August 15, 2005, Ekpedeme, then a resident of Bowie, reported that for tax year 2004 he had taxable income of $21,106 and a total federal income tax liability of $8,715, when in fact, his taxable income was in excess of $237,000, and his total federal income tax liability was $76,012. The total loss for tax years 2001 to 2004 is $152,440.
Ekpedeme faces a maximum sentence of three years in prison, followed by one year of supervised release on each count. U.S. District Judge Alexander Williams, Jr. has scheduled sentencing for February 6, 2009 at 9:30 a.m.
United States Attorney Rod J. Rosenstein thanked the Internal Revenue Service - Criminal Investigation for its investigative work. Mr. Rosenstein commended Assistant United States Attorney Gina L. Simms, who is prosecuting the case.