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Justice News

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

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Santa Rosa Tax Return Preparer Sentenced to 18 Months for Tax Fraud and Failing to Report Foreign Bank Accounts Omitting More than $587,000 of Income

SAN FRANCISCO – Efrain Arturo Jovel was sentenced today to 18 months in prison for filing false tax returns and failing to report his financial interest in foreign bank accounts, U.S. Attorney Melinda Haag and Internal Revenue Service, Criminal Investigation Special Agent in Charge José M. Martinez, announced.

Jovel pleaded guilty on October 21, 2014, to willfully failing to report his financial interest in several foreign bank accounts, in violation of 31 U.S.C. §§ 5314 and 5322(a), and to knowingly signing his false 2009 and 2010 federal income tax returns. According to the plea agreement, Jovel owned and operated a tax return preparation business for over 30 years, first out of his home, then out of offices on Guerneville Road, both in Santa Rosa, Calif.  On average, Jovel prepared approximately 1,800 tax returns per year. Jovel admitted that for the tax years 2009 and 2010, he filed personal U.S. Individual Income tax returns that were false in that he did not disclose his foreign bank accounts at Banco HSBC Salvadoreno, S.A. and Banco Reformador, S.A. In addition, Jovel did not disclose interest income of $35,104 earned in 2009 and 2010 on the funds held in these foreign bank accounts. Jovel additionally admitted that he willfully underreported gross receipts from his tax preparation service of $244,120 and $307,846, respectively.  This resulted in a tax loss of $175,023. Jovel further agreed to pay a penalty of $287,896 prior to sentencing.

Jovel, 64, of Santa Rosa, was charged on September 9, 2014, with one count of willfully violating foreign bank account reporting requirements and two counts of subscribing to false tax returns.

The sentence was handed down by the Honorable Richard Seeborg, U.S. District Court Judge.  In addition to the 18-month sentence, Jovel was also sentenced to a three-year period of supervised release, ordered to pay restitution of $175,023 and a $10,000 fine.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Colin Sampson is prosecuting the case. The prosecution is the result of an investigation by the IRS - Criminal Investigation.

Updated March 3, 2015