Tax Preparer Sentenced to 16 Months in Prison For Filing False Tax Returns
Greenbelt, Maryland - U.S. District Judge Alexander Williams, Jr. sentenced Raymond Ekpedeme, age 48, of Laurel, Maryland, today to 16 months in prison followed by one year of supervised release for aiding 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. Judge Williams also ordered Ekpedeme to pay restitution of $152,440.
“While most tax return preparers provide excellent service to their clients, a few unscrupulous tax preparers file false tax returns to defraud the government, the tax paying public and their own clients,” stated C. Andre' Martin, Internal Revenue Service-Criminal Investigation Special Agent in Charge. “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.”
According to his plea agreement, from 2002 to 2006, Ekpedeme operated Erickson Tax Service, located in Hyattsville, Maryland. For the tax years 2001-2005, Ekpedeme prepared and electronically filed with the IRS fraudulent tax returns that included: inflated charitable contributions or employee business expenses, inflated 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. After meeting with the undercover agent, Ekpedeme prepared and electronically filed a fraudulent tax return which claimed a refund of $1,391. The fraudulent tax return consisted of fictitious deductions, including: falsified gifts to charity of $3,080; falsified expenses of $4,250; falsified job-related expenses of $857; and a false deduction for tuition and fees of $4,000. Ekpedeme’s participation in this scheme resulted in losses of $270,448.75.
In addition, Ekpedeme filed false personal tax returns for tax years 2001 to 2004. For example, Ekpedeme 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 over $237,000, and his total federal income tax liability was $76,012. The total loss arising from the filing of his personal false tax returns is $152,440.
United States Attorney Rod J. Rosenstein thanked the Internal Revenue Service - Criminal Investigation for its investigative work and commended Assistant United States Attorney Gina L. Simms, who prosecuted the case.