Disbarred Maryland Attorney Pleads Guilty to Preparing False Tax Returns
WASHINGTON - Tax return preparer Lawrence Sperling pleaded guilty today to aiding in the preparation of false tax returns, the Justice Department and Internal Revenue Service (IRS) announced. Sperling was scheduled to begin trial on April 14, 2009 before Judge Deborah Chasanow in Greenbelt, Md.
According to the indictment and the plea agreement, Sperling, who is a disbarred former attorney, owned and operated a tax preparation business in Silver Spring, Md., from at least 2002 through 2003. The business operated under several names, including American Tax Service, American Tax Institute, JAMAR LLC, and American Tax Professional Associates Inc. (ATPA).
According to the indictment and the plea agreement, Sperling knowingly prepared tax returns for his clients that contained false and fraudulent items, including inflated medial expenses, charitable contributions, miscellaneous employment-related expenses, and child care credits. The tax loss associated with false returns prepared by Sperling is $804,335.
According to the indictment and the plea agreement, beginning in 1988, Sperling failed to file tax returns for eleven years. In 2001, the IRS penalized Sperling and fined him $10,000 for "willful or reckless understatement of taxpayer’s tax liability" with respect to his tax preparation business. The IRS sent him more than two dozen notices of taxes and penalties due, notice of intent to levy, and other warning letters.
Beginning in at least 1998, Sperling arranged for another individual (the nominee) to file the tax returns of Sperling’s clients and to collect Sperling’s preparation fees. The nominee subsequently held these funds in bank accounts in the nominee’s name. The nominee made disbursements of these funds to Sperling or others at Sperling’s request. Sperling never declared or paid taxes on these funds, although he used a portion of them to pay business expenses. As a result of this conduct, Sperling caused an additional tax loss of $130,847.
Judge Chasanow scheduled sentencing of Sperling for July 31, 2009. Sperling faces a maximum sentence of three years in prison and a fine of $250,000 for the aiding in the preparation of false returns conviction.
Acting Assistant Attorney General John A. DiCicco thanked the special agents from IRS-Criminal Investigation who investigated the case, as well as Tax Division trial attorneys Jerrod Patterson, Shawn Noud, and Tino Lisella, who prosecuted the case.