West Palm Beach Return Preparer Sentenced to Over 5 Years in Prison and Ordered to Pay More Than Half a Million for Filing False Tax Returns with the IRS
Today, Manuel Antonio Severino, a West Palm Beach tax preparer, was sentenced to over 5 years in prison and ordered to pay $524,556 in restitution, after having been convicted at trial of filing false tax returns with the IRS.
Benjamin G. Greenberg, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Florida, and Michael J. DePalma, Acting Special Agent in Charge, Internal Revenue Service, Criminal Investigation (IRS-CI), made the announcement.
Severino, 44, of West Palm Beach, was sentenced to 65 months in prison, 3 years of supervised release (to include 6 months of home confinement), and ordered to pay $524,556 in restitution, by Senior U.S. District Judge Paul C. Huck. Additionally, while on supervised release the defendant is ordered to complete community service - 1,000 hours a year if unemployed and 300 hours a year if employed. On February 23, 2018, a jury found Severino guilty 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).
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 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 he 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.
Mr. Greenberg commended the investigative efforts of IRS-CI. This case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Daniel J. Marcet and Lisa H. Miller.