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Press Release

Maryland Tax Preparer Pleads Guilty to Preparing False Returns and Aggravated Identity Theft

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, District of Maryland
Office Sign Advertised Identities for Sale

Greenbelt, Maryland – Maria Espinal, age 53, of Montgomery Village, Maryland, pleaded guilty today to aiding and assisting in filing false tax returns and aggravated identity theft.

The guilty plea was announced by United States Attorney for the District of Maryland Robert K. Hur; Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Richard E. Zuckerman of the Justice Department’s Tax Division; Special Agent in Charge Kelly R. Jackson of the Internal Revenue Service - Criminal Investigation, Washington, D.C. Field Office; and Maryland Comptroller Peter Franchot.

According to court documents and statements made in court, Maria Espinal owned and operated a tax return preparation business located in Gaithersburg, Maryland.  From 2011 through 2017, Maria Espinal prepared and filed fraudulent tax returns on behalf of her clients with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and the Comptroller of Maryland that claimed tax refunds to which the clients were not entitled.  To generate a fraudulent refund, Espinal altered legitimate Forms W-2 in the names of third parties and replaced the third party’s name with her client’s name.  As a result, her client claimed the third-party’s withholdings as his or her own, which generated fraudulent tax refunds.

In addition, Espinal displayed a sign on her office wall that read in Spanish “If you have lost your [identification] number or passport we have these people” and which listed the identifying information for several individuals.  Espinal used the personal identifying information for one of those individuals to obtain a fraudulent refund on behalf of another client.  Espinal also filed a tax return using another individual’s personal identifying information to generate a fraudulent refund that Espinal deposited into her own personal bank account. 

Espinal faces a mandatory sentence of two years in prison for aggravated identity theft, and three years in prison for aiding in the preparation of a false tax return.  She also faces a period of supervised release, restitution, and monetary penalties.  U.S. District Judge Theodore D. Chuang set sentencing for April 2, 2020, at 9:30 a.m. 

U.S. Attorney Hur and Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Zuckerman thanked IRS - Criminal Investigation and the Office of the Comptroller of Maryland for their work in the investigation, and commended Assistant United States Attorney Erin Pulice and Trial Attorney Carl Brooker of the Tax Division, who are prosecuting the case.

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Marcia Murphy
(410) 209-4854

Updated December 20, 2019