Texas Return Preparers Charged With Filing Fraudulent Tax Returns
A federal grand jury in Dallas, Texas returned an indictment on Feb. 6, which was unsealed Friday, July 13, charging two return preparers with filing fraudulent tax returns, announced Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney Richard E. Zuckerman of the Justice Department’s Tax Division and U.S. Attorney Erin N. Cox for the Northern District of Texas.
The indictment charges Francisco Ventura and Mario Melendez with conspiracy to defraud the United States and filing fraudulent tax returns for clients. It further charges Ventura with wire fraud, aggravated identity theft and filing a fraudulent personal tax return.
According to the indictment, Ventura owned and operated multiple tax preparation businesses in Irving, Texas including AJJ Tax and More, Uptown Multi Services and I-Care Financial Services. Melendez allegedly worked for Ventura as a manager and return preparer at Uptown. From November 2013 through May 2014, Ventura and Melendez allegedly conspired to defraud the United States by preparing fraudulent income tax returns that included fake business and education expenses seeking refunds to which their clients were not entitled. Ventura and Melendez allegedly taught tax preparation classes to employees of Uptown and AJJ on how to falsify client returns. The indictment further alleges that Ventura used nominees to obtain Preparer Tax Identification Numbers (PTIN) and Electronic Filing Identification Numbers (EFIN) from the IRS in order to conceal his ownership of the businesses, and that Ventura stole the name and PTIN of another person to electronically file fraudulent returns with the IRS. Ventura is also alleged to have filed a personal 2014 individual tax return that underreported his income.
If convicted, Ventura and Melendez face a statutory maximum sentence of five years in prison for the conspiracy charge and three years in prison for each count of filing fraudulent tax returns. Ventura further faces a statutory maximum sentence of twenty years in prison for each wire fraud count, three years in prison for filing a fraudulent individual income tax return and a mandatory two years in prison for each aggravated identity theft count. Ventura and Melendez also face a period of supervised release, restitution and monetary penalties.
An indictment merely alleges that crimes have been committed. The defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.
Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Zuckerman and U.S. Attorney Cox commended special agents of IRS Criminal Investigation, who conducted the investigation, and Trial Attorneys Alexander Effendi and Melanie Smith of the Tax Division, who are prosecuting this case.
Additional information about the Tax Division and its enforcement efforts may be found on the division’s website.