TAX PREPARERS AND OTHERS INDICTED IN TAX REFUND CONSPIRACY
Three Defendants Owned and Operated “Tax On The Run”
Some Defendants Recruited Impoverished Taxpayers to Use Their Names/SSNs on the Fraudulent Returns
DALLAS — Five defendants, charged in an indictment with various offenses related to their conspiracy to fraudulently obtain income tax refunds by misusing the First-Time Home Buyer Tax Credit, have been arrested by special agents with the Internal Revenue Service - Criminal Investigation, announced U.S. Attorney Sarah R. Saldaña of the Northern District of Texas and Andrea D. Whelan, Special Agent in Charge of the IRS Criminal Investigation Division’s Dallas Field Office. All of the defendants made their initial court appearances yesterday before U.S. Magistrate Judge Renée Harris Toliver.
The 13-count indictment, returned by a federal grand jury in Dallas last month, and unsealed this week, charges Jason Phread Altman, Jarrod Phread Altman, Emanuel James Harrison, aka “E.J.” and “Chris,” Fread Jamille Jenkins, aka “Jamal,” and Rickel Shine, aka “Kel,” each with one count of conspiracy to file false claims. In addition, Jason Altman is charged with three counts of false, fictitious or fraudulent claims and two counts of money laundering. Jarrod Altman and Rickel Shine are also charged with one count of false, fictitious or fraudulent claims. Emmanuel Harrison is also charged with two counts of false, fictitious or fraudulent claims and Fread Jenkins is charged with three of the same. All of the defendants have been released on bond, with the exception of Rickel Shine, who was detained.
The indictment alleges that beginning in March 2009, the five defendants conspired together to defraud the U.S. by obtaining, and aiding the obtaining of, the payment of false, fictitious and fraudulent claims, in the form of federal income tax returns. A tax preparation business, “Tax On the Run,” which was owned and operated by Jason Altman, Jarrod Altman and Emanuel Harrison, was used to file false income tax returns in the names of numerous clients. These tax returns overstated and fabricated income and tax deductions by falsely representing that the taxpayers were entitled, under the provisions of the Housing and Economic Recovery Act of 2008, to claim a tax credit as a first-time home buyer.
The indictment further alleges that one or more of the defendants acted as intermediaries and recruited clients on behalf of Tax On The Run’s owners and operators. Defendants who acted as intermediaries were paid cash after successfully recruiting impoverished taxpayers to allow their names and social security numbers to be used to file fraudulent tax returns. The owners of Tax On The Run, according to the indictment, routinely filed the fraudulent returns claiming first-time home buyer credits despite having never met the individual taxpayers.
Santa Barbara Bank and Trust processed refund anticipation loans based on the fraudulent returns filed. After electronically filing the fraudulent returns, the defendants were notified by the bank that the loan had been approved and a check could be printed and provided to the taxpayer. Once the check was printed the defendants transported the taxpayer to local check cashing businesses and instructed the taxpayer to cash the refund check. After the check was cashed, the members of the conspiracy paid the taxpayer a small percentage of the refund and kept the remainder of the proceeds. On occasion, tax refunds were electronically deposited directly into a Tax On the Run business account and instead of issuing refund checks to the individual taxpayers, defendants used debit cards to withdraw the funds and spent the money on themselves.
The indictment alleges that 150 tax returns claiming fraudulent First-Time Home Buyer Tax Credits, totaling more than $1.1 million in false claims, were filed.
An indictment is an accusation by a federal grand jury, and a defendant is entitled to the presumption of innocence unless proven guilty. Upon conviction, however, the conspiracy count and each of the money laundering counts carry a maximum statutory sentence of 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine. Each of the false, fictitious or fraudulent claims counts, upon conviction, carries a maximum statutory sentence of five years in prison and a $250,000 fine. Restitution could also be ordered. The indictment also includes a forfeiture allegation which would require Jason Altman, if convicted, to forfeit all property involved in, or traceable to the offense, including two Mercedes Benz vehicles.
The investigation is being conducted by IRS-Criminal Investigation. Deputy Criminal Chief Assistant U.S. Attorney Rick Calvert is in charge of the prosecution.
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