Owner of Business Providing Physical Therapy Services Pleads Guilty to Failure to Pay Over to the IRS More Than $258,000 in Federal Employment Taxes
Withheld $155,838.15 in Income and Employment Taxes from Employee Wages Which the Defendant Did Not Send to the IRS; Also Neglected to Pay the Employer’s Share of Employment Taxes Totaling $103,066.85
Baltimore, Maryland – Harshe Shende, age 57, of Hanover, Maryland, pleaded guilty on May 4, 2021, to eight counts of failing to pay over employment taxes to the Internal Revenue Service in the amount of $258,905.
The guilty plea was announced by Acting United States Attorney for the District of Maryland Jonathan F. Lenzner and Acting Special Agent in Charge Darrell J. Waldon of the Internal Revenue Service - Criminal Investigation, Washington, D.C. Field Office.
According to Shende’s guilty plea, he was the sole owner and resident agent of Progressive Rehab Services, LLC, formed on September 10, 2004, which employed physical and occupational therapists who went to nursing homes to render services to patients. Shende was the sole signatory on two bank accounts he opened for the corporation at separate banks in 2008 and 2013, respectively. Shende accrued large liabilities for Progressive Rehab by filing forms with the IRS which showed the amount of income tax withholding he collected from Progressive Rehab’s employees and their Medicare and Social Security withholding (collectively employment taxes) but by failing to pay the employment taxes to IRS. Shende also failed to pay the employers’ portion of employment taxes to the IRS. The IRS pursued collection activities against Progressive Rehab.
As detailed in his plea agreement, on March 16, 2006, Shende and his then wife incorporated Progressive Health Group, Inc., (“Progressive Health”) in Maryland, with the stated purpose to provide rehab to nursing homes, hospitals, assistive living and home health. Shende was listed as Executive Director on two bank accounts he opened for the corporation at separate banks in 2008 and 2012, respectively. Shende listed the same address in Columbia, Maryland, for Progressive Health as he did for Progressive Rehab.
Shende admitted that beginning in around April 2009, he caused Progressive Rehab’s employees to perform the same work, but he billed for their work using the name Progressive Health and paid their salaries using Progressive Health’s bank account. Progressive Health withheld payroll taxes from its employees’ paychecks, including federal income taxes, Medicare and social security (“FICA”) taxes. As he did with with Progressive Rehab, Shende filed forms with the IRS for Progressive Health showing the amount of employment taxes withheld. However, as he did with Progressive Rehab, Shende willfully chose not to pay the taxes withheld from Progressive Health’s employees’ wages to the IRS, nor did he pay the employer’s portion of the employment taxes.
As a result, Shende failed to pay to the IRS a total of $155,838.15 in employment taxes withheld in tax years 2014 and 2015 and failed to pay the IRS a total of $103,066.85, which was the employer’s share of employment taxes for tax years 2014 and 2015. .
Shende faces a maximum sentence of five years in federal prison for failure to pay over employment taxes. Chief U.S. District Judge James K. Bredar has scheduled sentencing for July 23, 2021 at 2:00 p.m.
Acting United States Attorney Jonathan F. Lenzner commended the IRS-CI for its work in the investigation. Mr. Lenzner thanked Assistant U.S. Attorney Joyce K. McDonald, who is prosecuting the case.
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