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Press Release

Investigations by IRS Lead to Cases Against Tax Return Preparers

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Western District of Pennsylvania

PITTSBURGH - The United States Attorney’s Office for the Western District of Pennsylvania and Internal Revenue Service-Criminal Investigations announced today recent actions to deter violations of the federal income tax laws. As the April 18th deadline approaches for the timely filing of income tax returns, citizens are reminded to fulfill their obligations and to rest assured those who chose not to do so will be prosecuted.

Acting U.S. Attorney Soo C. Song stated, “Most people voluntarily pay their fair share of taxes in a timely manner. Criminal penalties are reserved for the most flagrant and egregious violators. Those who consider committing tax fraud should recognize that their actions negatively impact all of us and personally expose them to stringent monetary penalties and potential prison time.”

“Tax fraud exists in many forms, from unscrupulous tax preparers filing false and fraudulent returns, to identity thieves, to those who devise complex schemes to hide their income and evade paying the taxes they owe,” said Acting Special Agent in Charge Greg Floyd. “IRS-Criminal Investigation pursues tax cheats year round. As the filing deadline quickly approaches, those who are contemplating engaging in tax fraud should know that they will be pursued.”

The offices continue to uncover the fraudulent refund schemes that occur in Western Pennsylvania and to bring those who perpetrate them to justice. Some of the recent cases being prosecuted by the district follow.

Man Admits Guilt in Stolen Identity Refund Fraud Scheme Using Hacked UPMC Employee Information

A foreign national residing outside of the United States pleaded guilty in federal court to charges of money laundering and aggravated identity theft.

Yoandy Perez Llanes, 33, pleaded guilty to two counts before United States District Judge Mark R. Hornak.

In connection with the guilty plea, the court was advised that early in 2014, tens of thousands of present and former employees of UPMC had their personal information compromised by hackers, who intruded into a UPMC computerized database and stole names, Social Security numbers, dates of birth and other personal identifying information. This data was then used to file over 900 false 2013 federal tax returns, which contained requests for tax refunds onto Amazon.com gift cards. Llanes and other conspirators laundered the Amazon.com gift cards to purchase electronic merchandise, which was shipped through reshipping services to Venezuela, and retrieved by Llanes and others. While the perpetrators claimed approximately $2.2 million in unlawful refunds, $1,475,000 million was actually disbursed in unlawful refunds.

Judge Hornak scheduled sentencing for August 18, 2017 at 9:30 a.m. The law provides for a total sentence of not more than 22 years in prison, a fine of $750,000, or both. Under the Federal Sentencing Guidelines, the actual sentence imposed is based upon the seriousness of the offenses and the prior criminal history, if any, of the defendant.

Assistant United States Attorney Gregory C. Melucci is prosecuting this case on behalf of the government.

The Internal Revenue Service-Criminal Investigation, the United States Secret Service and the United States Postal Inspection Service conducted the investigation that led to the prosecution of Yoandy Perez Llanes.

New York State Man Sentenced for Role in Stolen Identity Refund Fraud Scheme

A resident of Rosedale, New York has been sentenced in federal court to 36 months in jail on his conviction of conspiracy to commit wire fraud.

United States District Judge David S. Cercone imposed the sentence on Adetunji Gbadegeshi, 60, of Rosedale, New York.

According to information presented to the court, Gbadegeshi used the hundreds of stolen identities found in his house to open bank accounts that were used as repositories for fraudulently obtained federal tax refunds. Gbadegeshi would then remove the money from the accounts and distribute it to his co-conspirators.

Assistant United States Attorney Christian A. Trabold prosecuted this case on behalf of the government.

Monument Company Worker Embezzled $12.9 Million from Employer

An Allegheny County resident pleaded guilty in federal court to charges of mail fraud, wire fraud, tax evasion, and money laundering.

Cynthia A. Mills, 56, of McKees Rocks, Pa., pleaded guilty to six counts (one count of mail fraud, three counts of wire fraud, one count of tax evasion, and one count of engaging in monetary transactions in criminally derived property) before United States District Judge Nora Barry Fischer. In connection with the guilty plea, the court was advised that from February 1999 to May 2015, Mills embezzled $12,969,774.42 from Matthews International Corporation where she was employed as a Cashier and Treasury Specialist.

Judge Fischer scheduled sentencing for July 28, 2017, at 9:30 a.m. The law provides for a total sentence of 95 years in prison, a fine of $1,500,000, or both. Under the Federal Sentencing Guidelines, the actual sentence imposed is based upon the seriousness of the offenses and the prior criminal history, if any, of the defendant.

Assistant United States Attorney Shardul S. Desai is prosecuting this case on behalf of the government.

$6 million DOD Fraud, $1 million paid in illegal gratuities, 5 charged with tax violations

Five Informations have been filed in federal court in Pittsburgh charging three local residents and two residents of the greater Detroit area with crimes of major fraud against the U.S. Department of Defense, tax violations and illegal gratuities.

Thomas G. Buckner, 65, of Gibsonia, Pennsylvania, and his brother, John P. Buckner, 67, of Lyndora, Pennsylvania, were each named in three count Informations charging them in one count with defrauding U.S. Army Tank-Automotive and Armaments Command (TACOM), and two counts of income tax evasion.

According to the Informations filed with the court, the Buckner brothers were 50/50 owners of Ibis Tek, LLC (hereinafter Ibis Tek). Ibis Tek’s main office was located at 912 Pittsburgh Street, Butler, Pennsylvania 16002, and it had an office at Ibis Tek Victory Road facility, 220 South Noah Drive, Saxonburg, PA 16056. Ibis Tek manufactured both military and commercial products but specialized in the development of transparent armor and accessory products for tactical and military combat vehicles. Ibis Tek itself was not charged with any violations. TACOM, located in Warren, Michigan, was responsible for letting and overseeing contracts on behalf of the U.S. Department of Defense, including contracts concerning High Mobility Multipurpose Wheeled Vehicle (hereinafter Humvees). Ibis Tek had a subcontract to produce Vehicle Emergency Escape Window (VEE Window) Kits for Humvees. The Buckners inflated Ibis Tek’s costs to manufacture the VEE Window kits by creating Alloy America, LLC, (Alloy) a company that the Buckners controlled, by using Alloy to purchase the frames in China for $20 per frame, and by using false invoices from Alloy to make it appear that Ibis Tek paid $70 per frame. In addition, the Buckners sold scrap aluminum collected in the manufacturing process but failed to credit that money to TACOM. The losses to TACOM were $6,085,709. Both Buckner brothers were charged with income tax evasion for 2009 and 2010 for not reporting the cash from sales of scrap aluminum, and for taking unallowable business deductions described below.

Harry H. Kramer, 52, of Wexford, Pennsylvania, was named in a three count Information charging him in Count One for his role as CFO of Ibis Tek in the above described major fraud against TACOM. Counts Two and Three charge him with filing false returns for Ibis Tek for 2009 and 2010.

David S. Buckner, of Warren, Michigan, (no relation to Thomas or John Buckner) was named in a one count information charging him with impeding the IRS by acting as a financial intermediary who received and then paid out money to Anthony Shaw, for the purpose of concealing that the monies were income of Shaw, concealing the true source of the monies, and concealing the purpose for the monies. David Buckner owned D & B Cycle Parts and Accessories.

Anthony A. Shaw, 55, of Rochester Hills, Michigan, was named in a five count Information. Shaw, then a civilian employee at TACOM, was a Deputy Project Manager responsible for directing development of and managing government contracts for combat vehicle systems such as Humvees. Shaw is charged in Counts One and Two with demanding and receiving a total of $1,055,500 of illegal gratuities paid by checks and wire transfers by Thomas Buckner to and through D & B Cycle Parts and Accessories for Shaw. Counts Three and Four charge Shaw with income tax evasion for 2009 and 2010 for not reporting payments from Thomas and John Buckner totaling in excess of $1,000,000. In Count Five Shaw is charged with making false statements when he denied that he had socialized with Thomas Buckner and John Buckner, and denied that he had traveled in a car, boat and an airplane owned by Thomas Buckner or John Buckner.

For Thomas and John Buckner, the law provides for a maximum total sentence of 20 years in prison, a fine of $1,500,000, or both. For Kramer, the law provides for a maximum total sentence of 16 years in prison, a fine of $1,500,000, or both. For David Buckner, the law provides for a maximum total sentence of 3 years in prison, a fine of $250,000, or both. For Shaw, the law provides for a maximum total sentence of 19 years in prison, a fine of $1,250,000, or both. Under the Federal Sentencing Guidelines, the actual sentence imposed would be based upon the seriousness of the offense and the prior criminal history, if any, of the defendant.

Assistant United States Attorney Nelson P. Cohen is prosecuting this case on behalf of the government.

Physician Charged with Willfully Failing to File Income Tax Returns

A medical doctor has been charged by Information in federal court in Pittsburgh with three counts of willfully failing to file income tax returns.

According to the Information filed yesterday, Rodney J. Williams of Washington County failed to file tax returns from 2009 to 2011. During those three years he had gross income of $790,385.

The law provides for a maximum total sentence of not more than three years in prison, a fine of $300,000, or both. Under the Federal Sentencing Guidelines, the actual sentence imposed would be based upon the seriousness of the offenses and the prior criminal history, if any, of the defendant.

Assistant United States Attorney Nelson P. Cohen is prosecuting this case on behalf of the government.

Five Indicted Separately in Fraudulent Tax Return Scheme

Five residents of Western Pennsylvania have been separately indicted by a federal grand jury in Pittsburgh on charges of bank fraud, bank and mail fraud conspiracy and conspiracy to defraud the United States.

A two-count indictment returned by the federal grand jury, charging bank and mail fraud conspiracy and conspiracy to defraud the United States named Sean Brooks, 27, currently incarcerated. Three two-count indictments returned by the federal grand jury, charging mail fraud conspiracy and conspiracy to defraud the United States named Amber Eubanks, 27, of Pittsburgh, Brandon Prater 29, currently incarcerated, and Simone Prater, 29, of Pittsburgh, as sole defendants in each indictment. A one-count indictment charging bank fraud named Tyrone Gossett, 63, of Pittsburgh as the sole defendant.

According to the indictments, Sean Brooks, who was, at all material times, incarcerated, prepared and arranged for the filing of more than one hundred fraudulent tax returns on behalf of fellow inmates and other individuals and generated more than $200,000 in fraudulent refunds. The fraudulent refunds were sent to a number of different addresses, and, after forging the endorsement of the payees, the checks were cashed through federally insured financial institutions and through check-cashing establishments. Amber Eubanks, Brandon Prater, Simone Prater, and Tyrone Gossett assisted the conspiracy in a variety of ways, including sending the Internal Revenue Service the fraudulent tax returns, receiving forging, depositing and cashing the fraudulently obtained refund checks, disbursing the proceeds of the fraud amongst the conspirators, and proving personal identification information to Brooks for use in the fraudulent tax returns.

The law provides for a maximum total sentence of 35 years in prison, a fine of $1,250,000 or both for the charges pending against Sean Brooks. The law provides for a maximum total sentence of 25 years in prison, a fine of $500,000 or both for the charges pending against Amber Eubanks, Brandon Prater and Simone Prater. The law provides for a maximum total sentence of 30 years in prison, a fine of $1,000,000 or both for the charge pending against Tyrone Gossett. Under the Federal Sentencing Guidelines, the actual sentence imposed would be based upon the seriousness of the offenses and the prior criminal history, if any, of the defendants.

Assistant United States Attorney Brendan T. Conway is prosecuting this case on behalf of the government.

Most tax return preparers provide professional tax service. However, a few set out to use the personal and financial information provided to them to perpetrate fraud or other scams that can hurt their customers. Earlier this year, the IRS warned taxpayers that they are legally responsible for what is on the tax return even if someone else prepared the tax return. Taxpayers should be vigilant and ensure that their chosen return preparer reports accurate information. The IRS also warned the public about various schemes deployed by dishonest return preparers in its Dirty Dozen Tax Scams https://www.irs.gov/uac/newsroom/irs-summarizes-dirty-dozen-list-of-tax-scams-for-2017.

Updated April 17, 2017

Topic
Tax