California CPA Sentenced to Two Years in Prison and Ordered to Pay Restitution for Role in Stolen Identity Tax Refund Scheme
CPA Misappropriated Employer Identification Information
Masood Chotani, a certified public accountant from Los Angeles , was sentenced today to 24 months in prison, followed by one year of supervised release, the Justice Department and Internal Revenue Service (IRS) announced. Chotani was also ordered to pay $60,705 in restitution to the IRS.
On June 23, 2010, Chotani was indicted by a federal grand jury on charges of engaging in a scheme to file false tax returns with the IRS using the names and Social Security numbers of deceased individuals. He pleaded guilty to conspiracy to defraud the United States on January 15, 2013.
According to the indictment and the plea agreement, in 2002 and 2003, Chotani misappropriated employer identification information from his client files and provided them to his co-conspirators, Haroon Amin and Ather Ali. Amin and Ali then prepared and filed fraudulent tax returns falsely stating that these deceased individuals earned wages from which income tax had been withheld. As part of the scheme, Chotani caused 47 tax returns to be filed with the IRS claiming an aggregate of $372,558 in false refunds. Although the IRS rejected the bulk of the refund claims filed in the scheme, a number of refund checks were issued and delivered to addresses controlled by Amin, Ali, and their co-conspirators, including various mailboxes opened by Ali. Most of these refund checks then were delivered overseas to be deposited in bank accounts in Armenia and Pakistan. Chotani admitted that he was a knowing participant in this scheme.
Amin and Ali are serving prison sentences of 30 and 37 months, respectively.
Kathryn Keneally, Assistant Attorney General for the Justice Department’s Tax Division, commended the efforts of agents from the IRS Criminal Investigation Division in Laguna Niguel, Calif., as well as Assistant U.S. Attorney Charles E. Pell and Tax Division Trial Attorneys Joseph A. Rillotta and Ignacio Perez de la Cruz, who prosecuted the case.
More information about the Tax Division and its enforcement efforts is available at www.usdoj.gov/tax .