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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Southern District of Florida

Friday, February 23, 2018

West Palm Beach Return Preparer Convicted of Filing False Tax Returns with the IRS

Manuel Antonio Severino, 44, of West Palm Beach, was found guilty by a jury of thirteen counts of aiding and assisting in the preparation of false tax returns, in violation of Title 26, United States Code, Section 7206(2), two counts of wire fraud, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 1343, and two counts of aggravated identity theft, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 1028A(a)(1).

Benjamin G. Greenberg, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Florida, and Kelly R. Jackson, Special Agent in Charge, Internal Revenue Service, Criminal Investigation (IRS-CI), made the announcement.

According to the evidence presented at trial, Severino operated a purported tax preparation business from his home in West Palm Beach. He unjustly enriched himself and others by submitting false individual tax returns to the IRS on behalf of other individuals claiming false and fraudulent credits and deductions. Severino falsely reported that the taxpayers were entitled to receive a tax credit under the American Opportunity Credit, when the defendant knew that the taxpayers did not have qualified education expenses and were not entitled to receive this credit. Without his clients’ knowledge or consent, Severino diverted portions of his clients’ tax refunds to bank accounts that Severino controlled.  Over the three years that Severino engaged in this fraudulent tax return business, he sought over $1.6 million in refunds from the IRS on behalf of himself and his clients, and diverted tens of thousands of dollars of IRS tax refunds into his own bank accounts. 

Sentencing is scheduled for May 14, 2018, before Senior U.S. District Judge Paul C. Huck. Severino faces a maximum possible statutory sentence of three years in prison for each count of aiding in the preparation of false tax returns, 20 years in prison for each count of wire fraud, and a mandatory sentence of two years in prison for each count of aggravated identity theft.

Mr. Greenberg commended the investigative efforts of IRS-CI. This case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Daniel J. Marcet and Lisa Miller.

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.

Updated February 23, 2018