Philadelphia Tax Return Preparers Indicted and Charged With Tax Fraud Conspiracy
PHILADELPHIA – United States Attorney William M. McSwain announced that tax fraud conspiracy charges were filed against five former tax preparers, Florence Clark, 64, Israel Ortiz-Pena, 39, Alexander Salas, 39, Priscilla Rufino, a/k/a Priscilla Diaz, 37, and Mary Correa, 46, all residents of Philadelphia, who were owners and employees of a tax service business with numerous offices located in Philadelphia.
Each defendant is charged with conspiracy to knowingly defraud the United States by preparing and filing with the IRS false tax returns that fraudulently claimed tax refunds to which the individuals were not entitled, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 371. Salas was also charged with under-reporting his own income and, as the result, filing a false income tax return, in violation of Title 26, United States Code, Section 7206(1). If convicted of the charges, Clark, Ortiz-Pena, Rufino, and Correa could face up to five years in prison. Salas could face up to eight years in prison.
The charging documents filed today allege that the defendants fabricated business income for their clients, which fraudulently inflated the Earned Income Tax Credit each client could claim and thereby increased each client’s refund. In addition, the defendants allegedly increased the preparation fees that they collected, in the form of kickbacks from the tax refunds, by fabricating business income for the clients.
“As alleged in the indictment, these defendants – tax return preparers – committed fraud and stole from the United States government,” said U.S. Attorney McSwain. “They also stole from the pockets of all taxpayers who do the right thing every April and pay their fair share of taxes.”
“Knowingly falsifying documents filed with the IRS is a crime,” said Guy Ficco, IRS Criminal Investigation Special Agent in Charge. “Dishonest tax return preparers, like those charged in this conspiracy, use a variety of methods to cheat the government. This is a reminder to take care when choosing a tax return preparer; as you, the taxpayer, are ultimately responsible for the accuracy of the information on your tax return.”
The case was investigated by the Internal Revenue Service and is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Anita Eve.