Weguel Legentus, 40, and Chantale Baptiste, 32, both formerly of Coral Springs, are charged in a thirteen count indictment with conspiracy to defraud the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) with respect to claims, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 286, and filing false claims with the IRS, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 287. The defendants had their initial appearances today before United States Magistrate Judge Barry L. Garber.
Benjamin G. Greenberg, Acting U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Florida, Kelly R. Jackson, Special Agent in Charge, Internal Revenue Service, Criminal Investigation (IRS-CI), Dana Watson, Chief, Margate Police Department, Scott Israel, Sheriff, Broward Sheriff’s Office (BSO), and Drew J. Breakspear, Commissioner, Florida Office of Financial Regulation, made the announcement.
According to court documents, Baptiste was the President, and her husband Legentus was the Registered Agent, of CMB Financial Group, Inc., a Florida corporation, located in Broward County. From at least as early as 2013 through 2016, Baptiste and Legentus prepared and filed false and fraudulent federal income tax returns on behalf of their clients. They did so by attaching false and fraudulent IRS Form 8962 that claimed that their clients were entitled to a Premium Tax Credit, and false and fraudulent IRS Schedule C Profit (Loss) from business activity that claimed gross receipts and sales or expenses. Baptiste and Legentus would provide their clients with a copy of their prepared federal income tax return and represent that the information contained in the copy would be filed with the IRS on their clients’ behalf. Baptiste and Legentus would then alter their clients’ federal income tax returns without their clients’ knowledge and inflate the refund amount requested. Baptiste and Legentus would then file the false and fraudulent federal income tax returns with the inflated refund amount with the IRS. The IRS would then disburse the falsely and fraudulently obtained tax refunds to bank accounts controlled by Baptiste and Legentus. Baptiste and Legentus would retain for their own use and benefit the amount of the inflated tax refund along with their fees.
Baptiste and Legentus filed false and fraudulent claims with the IRS on behalf of their clients fraudulently claiming tax refunds ranging from approximately $2,000 to $12,000.
In addition to filing false claims with the IRS on behalf of their clients, Baptiste is charged with filing false claims with the IRS in connection with her own and Legentus’ federal income tax return for 2012. Legentus is also charged with filing a false claim with the IRS in connection with Baptiste’s federal income tax return for 2013, which requested a refund of approximately $44,000.
If convicted, the defendants face up to ten years in prison.
Mr. Greenberg commended the investigative efforts of IRS-CI, the Margate Police Department, the Broward Sheriff’s Office, and the Florida Office of Financial Regulation. Mr. Greenberg also thanked the Ft. Lauderdale Police Department, the Coral Springs Police Department and the Greenacres Police Department. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney J. Mackenzie Duane.
An indictment is merely an allegation, and every defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.
Related court documents and information may be found on the website of the District Court for the Southern District of Florida at www.flsd.uscourts.gov or on http://pacer.flsd.uscourts.gov.