Delaware Man Admits Conspiring to Defraud the IRS by Filing False Corporate Tax Returns
NEWARK, N.J. – A Wilmington, Delaware, man today admitted conspiring with his father to file false federal tax returns for shell companies, resulting in approximately $241,000 in fraudulent refunds, U.S. Attorney Craig Carpenito announced.
Johnathan Crespo, 34, pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge Jose L. Linares in Newark federal court to an information charging him with one count of conspiring with Jose Crespo to defraud the IRS by filing false corporate tax returns and cashing the resulting fraudulent refund checks.
According to the documents filed in this case and statements made in court:
Between 2011 and 2013, Johnathan Crespo and his father, Jose Crespo, filed numerous false federal corporate tax returns, IRS Forms 1120, for fake businesses, knowing that the businesses were not real and that the credits claimed on the tax returns were false. These false tax returns resulted in approximately $241,000 in fraudulent refunds being issued by the IRS.
In filing these false tax returns, Johnathan and Jose Crespo took advantage of fuel excise tax credits offered under federal tax law. The federal government taxes gasoline, diesel fuel, and certain other types of fuel, but certain commercial uses of these fuels are nontaxable. Businesses that purchase fuel for a nontaxable use can claim a tax credit by filing an IRS Form 4136, “Credit for Federal Tax Paid on Fuels.”
In one instance, Johnathan and Jose Crespo filed a federal corporate tax return for 2011 for Advanced Transportation Corp. that falsely claimed a fuel excise tax credit of $24,898 and a resulting refund of $20,767. Advanced Transportation Corp. was a shell company, and the fuel excise tax credit and other tax return numbers were false. Johnathan Crespo received and cashed the $20,767 refund check at a check-cashing facility in Guttenberg, New Jersey. He cashed many other refund checks for similar false tax returns at this same check-cashing facility.
Jose Crespo pleaded guilty on Sept. 11, 2017, before Judge Linares to engaging in the fuel excise tax credit scheme and another tax fraud scheme, which together claimed fraudulent refunds from the IRS of nearly $1.5 million. He was sentenced on Dec. 20, 2017, to three years in prison.
Marilyn Crespo, Jose Crespo’s wife, pleaded guilty March 1, 2018, before Judge Linares to engaging in the same fuel excise tax credit scheme and causing a loss to the IRS of $286,742. Marilyn Crespo was sentenced on June 27, 2018, to 12 months and one day in prison and ordered to pay restitution of $286,742.
Johnathan Crespo’s brother, Jason Crespo, pleaded guilty June 28, 2018, before Judge Linares to engaging in the same fuel excise tax credit scheme and causing a loss to the IRS of $191,953. His sentencing is scheduled for Oct. 4, 2018.
The count of conspiracy to defraud the IRS carries a maximum potential penalty of five years in prison and a potential fine of $250,000 or twice the gross gain or loss from the offense, whichever is greater. Johnathan Crespo’s sentencing is scheduled for Oct. 16, 2018.
U.S. Attorney Carpenito credited special agents of IRS-Criminal Investigation, under the direction of Acting Special Agent in Charge Bryant Jackson, with the investigation leading to today’s guilty plea.
The government is represented by Assistant U.S. Attorney Rahul Agarwal, Deputy Chief of the Criminal Division in Newark.