Atlantic City, N.J., Tax Preparer Sentenced To Three Years In Prison For Filing Phony Income Tax Returns And Becoming A U.S. Citizen By Fraud
CAMDEN, N.J. – A tax preparer was sentenced today to 36 months in prison for his role in helping to prepare false income tax returns, illegal use of Social Security numbers and unlawfully obtaining United States’ citizenship, U.S. Attorney Paul J. Fishman announced.
Nicolas Gomez-Rua, 54, of Atlantic City, N.J., and Medellin, Colombia, previously pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge Noel L. Hillman to three counts of a 45-count indictment. Judge Hillman imposed the sentence today in Camden federal court.
According to documents filed in this case and statements made in court:
On Oct. 16, 2012, Gomez-Rua was charged in an indictment with 29 counts of aiding and assisting the preparation of a false income tax return, 10 counts of illegal use of a Social Security number and two counts of unlawful procurement of citizenship or naturalization. Clara Hernandez-Estrada, Gomez-Rua’s wife, was also charged with unlawful procurement of citizenship or naturalization, false statements in an application for a passport, false claim to U.S. citizenship and aggravated identity theft.
Gomez-Rua was arrested on Nov. 29, 2012, by special agents with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Homeland Security Investigations (ICE HSI) at JFK International Airport in New York when he tried to enter the United States from Colombia.
Between 2008 and 2010, Gomez-Rua operated Quick Tax Solution and Rapid Tax Solution in Ventnor City, N.J. He met with clients and obtained information and documents from them, which he used to prepare their U.S. Individual Income Tax Returns (1040 forms). Gomez-Rua admitted that he intentionally included fraudulent items and tax credits, such as false and fraudulent dependents, child tax credits, Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) claims, fuel tax credits and education credits, in order to obtain larger refunds than those to which his clients were entitled.
Gomez-Rua admitted that he maintained a file of Social Security cards and birth certificates for individuals born in Puerto Rico that was used to add fraudulent dependents on the 1040 forms that were filed with the IRS. Clients paid Gomez-Rua on average $300 to $500 for the use of fraudulent dependents. Gomez-Rua admitted that after preparing the fraudulent returns, he filed the false returns electronically and by U.S. Mail with the IRS.
Gomez-Rua admitted that 729 U.S. individual federal income tax returns containing fraudulent items and credits were prepared by Quick Tax Solution and Rapid Tax Solution on behalf of its clients for tax years 2007 through 2009. Based on the false and fraudulent returns prepared for tax years 2007 through 2009, the United States lost approximately $170,211 in tax revenue.
Gomez-Rua admitted that on March 12, 2009, he filed a 1040 form that he prepared for an individual that contained false deductions, including child and dependent; car expenses; filing status; and exemption amount. According to Gomez-Rua, the dependents were added so that the client would receive a bigger refund; the false return caused a loss of $5,827 to the United States.
Gomez-Rua said he was born in Colombia and in October 1993, he illegally entered the United States. Gomez-Rua said that Clara Hernandez-Estrada, a citizen of Colombia, also illegally entered the United States from Colombia. Sometime after entering the United States, Gomez-Rua settled in Atlantic City.
While in Atlantic City, Gomez-Rua admitted that he purchased the identity of “Wigaberto Santiago,” including his name, date of birth and Social Security number. Santiago was a citizen of the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico. Gomez-Rua then used that identity to work at various locations in Atlantic City.
Gomez-Rua further admitted that he purchased the identity of “Elizabeth Tirado,” including her name, date of birth and Social Security number, for Hernandez-Estrada. Tirado was a citizen of the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico. Gomez-Rua stated that between 1997 and 2008, Hernandez use the Tirado identity to work in Atlantic City.
Gomez-Rua said that on March 30, 1998, he married Hernandez-Estrada under the name of Elizabeth Tirado. He admitted that at various times between 1998 and 2008, he prepared and filed with the IRS income tax returns which included W-2 Forms issued to Hernandez-Estrada under the Tirado identity.
Gomez-Rua admitted that on Feb. 8, 2001, he submitted an application to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services for lawful permanent resident status based on his fraudulent marriage to Tirado, a U.S. citizen. On Feb. 13, 2002, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services approved his application, granted him permanent resident status in the United States and issued him a green card.
On May 9, 2006, Gomez-Rua submitted an application to U.S. Citizen and Immigration Services seeking to become a citizen of the United States based on his marriage to a U.S. citizen. Gomez-Rua admitted that he signed the application under penalty of perjury and that the application included the following false representations: that he had never used other names; that he had been married to and living with the same U.S. citizen for the last three years, and that his spouse had been a U.S. citizen for the last three years; and that his spouse was Elizabeth Gomez.
On Feb. 23, 2007, Gomez-Rua was interviewed under oath, subject to the penalty of perjury, by an immigration services officer in Mount Laurel, N.J., and repeated the lies in his application. On Feb. 27, 2007, U.S. Citizen and Immigration Services approved Gomez-Rua’s application for citizenship and he was naturalized as a citizen of the United States. Gomez-Rua admitted that had he told the immigration services officer the truth then he would not have been eligible to become a United States citizen.
In addition to the prison term, Judge Hillman sentenced Gomez-Rua to three years of supervised release and ordered him to pay $170,211 in restitution. He also revoked his citizenship.
U.S. Attorney Fishman credited special agents of the IRS – Criminal Investigation, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Shantelle P. Kitchen; special agents of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Homeland Security Investigations, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Andrew M. McLees; and special agents of the U.S. Department of State’s Diplomatic Security Service (DSS), under the direction of Michael Fogarty, Acting Special Agent in Charge of the DSS New York Field Office, for the investigation leading to today’s sentence.
The government is represented by Assistant U.S. Attorney Jason M. Richardson of the U.S. Attorney’s Office Criminal Division in Camden.
Defense counsel: Maggie Moy Esq., Assistant Federal Public Defender, Camden