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Press Release

People Reminded Of Stiff Penalties For Violating Tax Laws As Filing Deadline Approaches

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Northern District of Ohio

Several Ohioans have been found guilty and sentenced for violating federal tax laws over the past few months, said Steven M. Dettelbach, United States Attorney for the Northern District of Ohio, and Denise Rocawich, Acting Special Agent in Charge of the IRS-Criminal Investigation, Cincinnati Field Office.
As the 2013 tax filing deadline approaches, these cases serve as reminders that there are civil and sometimes criminal penalties to filing erroneous tax returns.

“Tax day is not fun, but the vast majority of Americans who properly report and pay their fair share need to know that we will aggressively prosecute those who shirk or flaunt their obligations,” Dettelbach said.

“With the April 15 tax deadline looming, it is important for people to have confidence that when they pay their taxes, their neighbors and competitors will do the same,” Rocawich said. “Every time someone in America cheats on their taxes, there are over 300 million victims.”

Details on a few cases over the past year:

Nelida I. Velasco of Chardon was sentenced last year to more than three years in prison for conspiracy to make false claims, making false claims, misuse of Social Security account numbers, and aggravated identity theft.  A co-defendant, David T. Tufts, also of Chardon, was previously sentenced to 4 years imprisonment.  Both pleaded guilty to the charges, which involved the filing of at least 35 false tax returns claiming at least $155,000 in false refund claims using stolen identification information of the 35 purported claimants.

Aesha Johnson of Beachwood was sentenced last year to 21 months in prison for making false income tax refund claims totaling approximately $84,244 for tax clients.

John W. Hufgard of Bath was sentenced in February to 18 months imprisonment for attempting to evade approximately $397,659 of his personal income tax liabilities for 2007 through 2009.  The taxes were owed on unreported income Hufgard received from selling manufacturing racks to metal scrap dealers for cash.  Hufgard pleaded guilty to the charges in November 2012.

Steven R. Hinz, Heather L. English, Patricia A. Polk, and William E. Phillips, III were sentenced in earlier this year prison for conspiracy and making false claims for income tax refunds.  Led by Hinz, the conspiracy involved filing at least 17 false tax returns claiming refunds totaling more than $3 million based on fictitious amounts of tax withholdings under the so-called “OID process.”  All four defendants pleaded guilty in October 2012.  Hinz, formerly of Youngstown, was sentenced to nine years in prison, while English was sentenced to 2 1/2 years.

Brandon M. Mace of Canton pleaded guilty in February to two counts of making false claims for income tax funds totaling nearly $5.5 million.  Mace prepared and filed false tax returns containing those claims while incarcerated in Ohio on state charges.  Mace is scheduled to be sentenced in May.

Updated March 12, 2015