U.S. Attorney And IRS Warn Potential Tax Cheats To Timely File Accurate And Complete Tax Returns
For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Middle District of Pennsylvania
SCRANTON - With the deadline for filing federal individual income tax returns rapidly approaching, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Middle District of Pennsylvania, and the Philadelphia Field Office, IRS Criminal Investigation Division, jointly announced a warning to those who are thinking about breaking the law by committing tax crimes. Willfully filing false tax returns or deliberately evading paying taxes are serious criminal offenses and can result in prison and substantial fines and penalties.
“Those who fail to pay their taxes put an added burden on honest taxpayers and cheat the government out of much needed revenue that finances our government’s operations,” said U.S. Attorney John C. Gurganus. “Our office will aggressively investigate and prosecute those individuals who knowingly and willfully evade their tax obligation and violate our tax laws.”
“With the tax filing deadline right around the corner, those who may think about committing tax fraud should consider the negative consequences of their actions, which could include jail time,” said Tim Connelly, Acting Special Agent in Charge of IRS-Criminal Investigation. “People who file accurate and honest returns can be assured that IRS-CI and the U.S. Attorney’s office will continue to seek out and prosecute those who willfully attempt to defraud the tax system.”
Throughout the past year, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Middle District of Pennsylvania prosecuted a broad array of tax offenses including tax evasion, employment tax fraud, and refund fraud. Enforcement efforts are continually ongoing. Here are a few recent examples:
- On March 24, 2022, Erin Hossler, of Pottsville, Pennsylvania, was sentenced to 15 months’ imprisonment for tax evasion and ordered to pay $153,539.70 in restitution to the IRS. Hossler stole hundreds of thousands of dollars from Cressona Borough, where she previously worked as Secretary/Treasurer and failed to file income tax returns during the years 2015, 2016, and 2017.
- Joseph Rinker, of Lycoming County, Pennsylvania, was sentenced on February 25, 2022, to two years of probation for using his position as the manager of the Harvest Moon Restaurant in Williamsport, Pennsylvania, to embezzle over $300,000, that he subsequently failed to report as income to the IRS from 2014 to 2017. Rinker was ordered to pay $64,250 in restitution to the IRS.
- On February 18, 2022, Charles R. Ehrenberg, owner of Ehrenberg Roofing and Construction, Inc., located in Hazleton, Pennsylvania, pleaded guilty to failing to pay over to the IRS federal employment taxes, including Federal Insurance Contribution Act (FICA) taxes for the period from 2017 through 2020, in the total amount of $185,681.90.
- On March 3, 2022, Ricky Long, of Mount Carmel, Pennsylvania, was sentenced to 12 months plus one day in prison for failure to account for and pay over employment taxes for a home healthcare business known as Warm Hearts Home Care Agency, Inc. operating in Sunbury, Pennsylvania. Long failed to file tax returns or pay over $296,484.89 in employment and trust fund taxes collected from employees over several years. Rather than turning the money over to the IRS, Long used the money to open a wine bar in Shamokin, Pennsylvania and to pay personal expenses such as vacations and tickets to sporting events. Long was also ordered to make full restitution.
- Giuseppe Tomasino, age 45, and Andrea Tomasino, age 71, co-owners of Tomasino’s Restaurante Italiano, located in Dallas, Pennsylvania, were sentenced on March 8, 2022, for failure to pay income and employment taxes between 2014 and 2019 related to the operation of their restaurant. Giuseppe Tomasino was sentenced to serve a 6-month period of home detention with electronic monitoring and Andrea Tomasino was sentenced to two years of probation and to pay restitution to the IRS in the amount of $214,347.
- On April 12, 2022, Ronald Halko, of Scranton, Pennsylvania, was indicted by a federal grand jury for attempting to evade payment of Trust Fund Recovery Penalty (TFRP) taxes in the approximate amount of $144,864.43 by concealing sources of income and other assets from the IRS.
Indictments and Criminal Informations are only allegations. A defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.
Tax Scam Warning
The U.S. Attorney’s Office and the IRS remind taxpayers to exercise caution during tax season to protect themselves against tax schemes ranging from identity theft to return preparer fraud. Illegal scams can lead to significant penalties and interest and possible criminal prosecution. IRS Criminal Investigation works closely with the Department of Justice to shutdown scams and to prosecute the criminals behind them.
Each year, taxpayers’ personal information is compromised through phishing scams or by unscrupulous tax preparers. IRS Criminal Investigation (IRS-CI) wants taxpayers to be aware of tax-related fraud. Tips to avoid tax season fraud include:
- Choose a tax preparer wisely. Look for a preparer who is available year-round.
- Ask your tax preparer for their IRS Preparer Tax Identification Number (PTIN). All paid preparers are required to have one.
- Don’t use a ghost preparer. They won’t sign a tax return they prepare for you.
- Don’t fall victim to tax preparers’ promises of large refunds. Taxpayers must pay their fair share of taxes.
- Don’t sign a blank tax return. Taxpayers are ultimately responsible for what appears on tax returns filed with the IRS.
- Make sure you receive your refund. Your refund should be deposited into your bank account, not your tax preparer’s.
- The IRS will not call you threatening legal action. If you receive a call like this, hang up.
- Don’t respond to text messages, emails or social media posts claiming to be the IRS. They may contain malware that could compromise your personal information.
- Don’t click links or open attachments in unsolicited emails or text messages about your tax return. These messages are fraudulent.
- Protect your personal and financial information. Never provide this information in response to unsolicited text messages, emails or social media posts claiming to be the IRS.
For more tips on choosing a tax professional or how to file a complaint against one, visit IRS.gov. Taxpayers who suspect tax violations by a person or business, may report it to the IRS using Form 3949A, Information Referral. Taxpayers can report phishing emails to firstname.lastname@example.org or IRS impersonation scams to TIGTA.gov.
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Updated April 14, 2022