Essex County, New Jersey, Tax Return Preparer Sentenced to 57 Months in Prison for Filing Tax Returns Using a Dead Person's Identity
Obtained More Than $350,000 in Fraudulent Tax Refunds
NEWARK, N.J. – An Essex County, New Jersey, tax return preparer was sentenced today to 57 months in prison for filing false claims with the IRS using a dead tax return preparer’s identification and preparing false documents for numerous fraudulent loans, U.S. Attorney Paul J. Fishman announced.
Todd P. Halpern, 49, previously pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge William J. Martini to an information charging him with one count of filing false claims and one count of wire fraud. Judge Martini imposed the sentence today in Newark federal court.
According to documents filed in this case and statements in court:
In late 2008, Halpern purchased A & V Financial (A & V), a tax return preparation business located in Guttenberg, New Jersey, from the wife of the prior owner, identified only as “V.R.,” who had died in March 2008. Halpern received the company’s computers and all of its client records. As part of the agreement to purchase A & V, Halpern was to obtain a new Electronic Filing Identification Number (EFIN) in his own name. Instead, he continued to file tax returns using V.R.’s EFIN number because Halpern’s criminal record prevented him from obtaining an EFIN.
From 2009 through 2010, Halpern prepared and filed 657 fraudulent federal income tax returns with the IRS using V.R.’s EFIN. Halpern prepared and filed some of these fraudulent tax returns without the knowledge and authorization of the taxpayers identified on the returns. Some of these tax returns contained fraudulent income and deduction amounts, which generated fraudulent refunds that were directly deposited into Halpern’s bank account.
On June 24, 2009, Halpern prepared and filed a fraudulent 2008 U.S. Individual Income Tax Return 1040 form with the IRS in the name of B.G., which fraudulently claimed an income tax refund in the amount of $13,183. The 2008 1040 form prepared by Halpern contained false income and deduction entries for B.G., because B.G. did not have any income for that tax year and did not file an income tax return. The $13,183 tax refund was directly deposited into Halpern’s bank account.
Halpern received a total of $373,938 in fraudulent tax refunds. He used these funds to support his lavish lifestyle, including purchases at Prada, Chanel, Saks Fifth Avenue, and Bloomingdales, to acquire season tickets to the New York Giants, to purchase thousands of dollars in jewelry, gold coins, and silver certificates, to make car payments on multiple luxury vehicles, including a 2007 Cadillac Escalade and a 2008 Lexus GX-470, and to buy parts for his classic 1957 Chevy Bel Air.
From January 2008 through May 2012, Halpern prepared false documents for numerous fraudulent loans from financial institutions. Halpern prepared tax returns, W-2 forms, and bank statements showing inflated income and asset balances to be used to support loan applications for borrowers, including him, to acquire mortgage loans, primarily involving residential properties in New Jersey, as well as other personal and business loans. Halpern and others caused the fraudulent documents to be submitted to mortgage lenders, other financial institutions, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, and the Federal Housing Administration (FHA), which were relied upon for the approval of mortgage and other loans.
In November 2009, Halpern served as the buyer for the short sale of 215 Newark Ave., Bloomfield, New Jersey, from seller B.S. for a purchase price of approximately $185,000. In support of Halpern’s purchase of this property, an FHA-insured mortgage loan for Halpern in the amount of $181,649 was obtained from a New Jersey-based mortgage company. Halpern and others submitted numerous fraudulent documents to FHA and to the mortgage company, including false bank statements, pay stubs and 2008 federal income tax returns in Halpern and his wife’s names. As in his tax fraud scheme, the false tax returns that Halpern prepared reflected V.R.’s identification number in an effort to conceal that Halpern had personally prepared the tax returns.
At the plea hearing, the Judge Martini also entered a consent judgment and order of forfeiture for $373,938 and for a classic 1957 Chevy Bel Air, which constitutes the proceeds that Halpern obtained as a result of his frauds. In addition to the prison term, Judge Martini also sentenced Halpern to serve five years of supervised release and pay restitution of $1.3 million.
U.S. Attorney Fishman credited special agents of the FBI, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Aaron T. Ford; special agents of IRS – Criminal Investigation, under the direction of Acting Special Agent in Charge Jonathan D. Larsen; and special agents of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, Office of Inspector General, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Cary Rubenstein, with the investigation leading to today’s sentencing.
The government is represented by Senior Litigation Counsel Leslie Faye Schwartz of the U.S. Attorney’s Office Criminal Division in Newark.
This case was brought in coordination with President Barack Obama’s Financial Fraud Enforcement Task Force. The task force was established to wage an aggressive, coordinated and proactive effort to investigate and prosecute financial crimes. With more than 20 federal agencies, 94 U.S. Attorneys’ offices and state and local partners, it’s the broadest coalition of law enforcement, investigatory and regulatory agencies ever assembled to combat fraud. Since its formation, the task force has made great strides in facilitating increased investigation and prosecution of financial crimes; enhancing coordination and cooperation among federal, state and local authorities; addressing discrimination in the lending and financial markets and conducting outreach to the public, victims, financial institutions and other organizations. Over the past three fiscal years, the Justice Department has filed nearly 10,000 financial fraud cases against nearly 15,000 defendants including more than 2,900 mortgage fraud defendants. For more information on the task force, please visit www.stopfraud.gov.
Defense counsel: Marshall J. Wofsy Esq., Jersey City, N.J.