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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Eastern District of California

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Ceres Mortgage Broker Pleads Guilty To Filing A False Tax Return

FRESNO, Calif. — Maria Vega, 53, a mortgage broker and real estate agent in Ceres, pleaded guilty today to filing a false tax return, United States Attorney Benjamin B. Wagner announced.

According to her plea agreement, Vega owned and operated Vega's Financial Services and was licensed as a broker by the California Department of Corporations. Vega earned income from working as a loan officer on mortgage transactions at Vega's Financial Services, and she also earned income as real estate agent in connection with the purchase, sale, and refinancing of residential properties. Although Vega received substantial income in tax years 2005, 2006 and 2007, she did not file federal income tax returns for tax years 2005 and 2006, until 2008. When Vega did file federal income tax returns in April 2008 for tax years 2005, 2006, and 2007, she substantially underreported both her income and tax due for those tax years. For example, Vega admitted that she underreported taxable income on her income tax return for the 2006 tax year of approximately $415,235.

According to IRS-Criminal Investigation Special Agent in Charge José M. Martinez, "All Americans have a duty to pay their fair share. The prosecution of individuals who intentionally conceal income and evade taxes is a vital element in maintaining public confidence in our tax system. We should not expect the honest taxpayer to foot the bill for those who hide income from the IRS."

This case is the product of an investigation by the Internal Revenue Service – Criminal Investigation. Assistant United States Attorneys Kirk E. Sherriff and Michael G. Tierney are prosecuting the case.

Vega is scheduled to be sentenced by U.S. District Judge Lawrence J. O'Neill on June 9, 2014. The maximum statutory penalty for filing a false tax return is three years in prison. The actual sentence, however, will be determined at the discretion of the court after consideration of any applicable statutory factors and the Federal Sentencing Guidelines, which take into account a number of variables.

Press Release Number: 
Docket #: 1:12-cr-0245 LJO
Updated April 8, 2015