Tax Preparer Pleads Guilty to Identity Theft, False Claims
ALBANY, NEW YORK – Bryant C. Hardnett, age 45, of Cohoes, New York, pled guilty yesterday to stealing the personally identifying information of children and using it to falsely claim the children as his own dependents on his tax returns.
The announcement was made by United States Attorney Grant C. Jaquith and James D. Robnett, Special Agent in Charge of the New York Field Office of Internal Revenue Service (IRS)-Criminal Investigation.
As part of his plea, Hardnett admitted that he formerly operated a tax preparation business, BH Tax Services, from a storefront in downtown Troy, New York. Through that business, Hardnett met a woman who asked him to file a tax return in her name for the year 2013. She provided her two children’s personally identifying information, including their names and Social Security Numbers. Hardnett never filed a tax return in the woman’s name, and instead falsely claimed the two children as his nephews and dependents on his tax returns filed with the IRS in 2013, 2014 and 2015.
Hardnett faces at least 2 years and up to 15 years in prison, as well as up to 3 years of post-imprisonment supervised release, when he is sentenced on September 19, 2018 by United States District Judge David N. Hurd in Utica, New York. A defendant’s sentence is imposed by a judge based on the particular statute the defendant is charged with violating, the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other factors. Hardnett has also agreed to pay at least $25,000 in restitution to the IRS, and to be permanently enjoined from ever filing a tax return for anyone other than himself.
As part of the same investigation, Guy Rochelle, age 59, of Troy, pled guilty to filing false tax returns for the tax years 2011 through 2014. Hardnett prepared these returns, in which Rochelle falsely claimed two children as his nieces and dependents; Hardnett supplied the children’s personally identifying information and filed the returns. Rochelle faces up to 3 years in prison when he is sentenced on September 10, 2018 by Senior United States District Judge Thomas J. McAvoy.
These cases were investigated by the New York Field Office of IRS-Criminal Investigation, and are being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Michael Barnett and Alicia G. Suarez.