No prize in the box; slick; Pacific time; and other highlights of recent tax cases.
Vancouver, Washington: Saul Valdez, owner of a business that offered immigrants a variety of services, has pleaded guilty to tax fraud.
An unlicensed tax preparer, he led his immigrant customers to believe he was filling out their tax forms correctly. Instead, from 2016 through 2018, Valdez inserted false deductions and expenses on returns.
Valdez operated Conexion Latina and used programs such as TaxAct and TurboTax to prepare clients’ taxes. For tax year 2017, Valdez admits claiming false and fraudulent expenses, donations and credits on 36 returns. The tax loss on those returns is $54,045, the amount of restitution Valdez has agreed to pay.
Valdez further admits that the total tax loss for his fraud is $1,293,921.
He faces up to three years in prison; prosecutors have agreed to cap their recommendation at 30 months. Sentencing is Aug. 28.
Elka Park, New York: Cousins Dennis and Kenneth Radcliffe have each pleaded guilty to conspiring to evade taxes on income from stock sales.
In their first scheme, they failed to report to the IRS several million dollars of income earned principally from sales of penny stocks from 2014 through 2017. The sales occurred in brokerage accounts that the Radcliffes controlled and that were in the names of their companies Crackerjack Classics and Universal Consulting.
In the second fraud, Dennis and Kenneth conspired with each other and with Joseph Radcliffe, the father of Dennis, to avoid taxes on some $500,000 in compensation that Crackerjack and Universal paid Joseph from 2013 through 2019.
When sentenced on Aug. 10, Dennis and Kenneth each face up to five years in prison and a maximum $250,000 fine. Dennis has agreed to pay $77,552 in restitution to the IRS; Kenneth has agreed to pay an additional $152,274 in restitution.
Joseph Radcliffe, also of Elka Park, was sentenced in August to three years of probation and to spend four consecutive weekends in jail and to pay $109,106 in restitution to the IRS following his guilty plea.
Jackson, Mississippi: Oil exec Jeffrey Randall has pleaded guilty to submitting a false return for his business.
Randall owned and operated the oil and gas lease company Gulf States Royalty. After informing his tax preparer that he was unwilling to pay the tax he owed on the $3 million dollars earned by Gulf States in 2008, Randall and his preparer reported more than $2 million dollars in false business expenses on the company’s 2008 income tax return.
Randall caused a federal tax loss of $824,036.72.
Sentencing is July 26. Randall faces a maximum of three years in prison, as well as a period of supervised release, restitution and monetary penalties.
Alpine, California: Resident Kenneth Yonika has pleaded guilty to evading federal taxes in 2017, 2018 and 2020.
In those years, he and his partners used a foreign-based nominee to sell securities in the U.S. and abroad. To offer the securities, Yonika and others had the nominee sign paperwork falsely reporting that the nominee owned the securities. Yonika and others then opened a U.S. bank account to receive millions in profits from the sale of the securities, which were distributed to Yonika and his partners.
To hide the income, Yonika engaged in numerous financial transactions involving his personal bank accounts and accounts belonging to his company, Pacific Crest Equity Partners. For example, he conducted dozens of wire transfers from both personal accounts and Pacific Crest accounts to family members and used Pacific Crest Equity Partners bank accounts to buy property and pay personal expenses.
He agreed to pay $669,133 in restitution to the IRS and to forfeit $1.9 million seized by the federal government.
Pittsburgh: Tax preparer Brian A. VanDusen, 52, of Youngstown, Ohio, has been sentenced to 30 months in prison and a year of supervised release on his conviction of tax fraud.
VanDusen operated the tax prep company Easy Tax Refund and between 2014 and 2018 he and tax preparers at his company prepared and transmitted hundreds of federal income tax returns that falsified Schedule C profits and losses, resulting in illegal refunds.
Federal tax losses totaled $994,824.
Ocala, Florida: Dentist Frantz Brignol has pleaded guilty to one count of tax evasion and one count of failing to file a return.
Brignol amassed almost $900,000 in federal tax liabilities. Between about 2014 and 2020, he evaded his taxes by hiding hundreds of thousands of dollars in his mother’s bank accounts (for which he had signatory authority), trading funds overseas and failing to disclose a bank account to the IRS.
Despite an annual income of more than $200,000 in 2020, Brignol also failed to file an income tax return.
He faces up to six years in prison.
Utica, New York: Former resident Dianna Nolan, 47, has pleaded guilty to filing false income tax returns.
Nolan admitted that she worked as a tax preparer between at least 2014 through 2018. On her personal income tax returns for 2017 and 2018, she intentionally failed to report all the income she received as a tax preparer. She also filed income tax returns for clients that falsely claimed losses from rental properties.
She agreed to pay restitution to the IRS totaling $101,636.
Nolan, who recently relocated to Florida, will be sentenced on Aug. 17. She faces up to three years in prison, a fine of up to $250,000, a term of supervised release of up to a year and a special assessment of $100.
Disputanta, Virginia: Tax preparer Sherika T. Carter, 40, has pleaded guilty to filing a false individual tax return, preparing false returns for clients and defrauding two pandemic-relief programs.
Carter owned and operated Binn’s Tax Service, which has been in operation since at least the 2016 season. Between 2016 and 2021, she filed more than 2,000 returns.
Certain returns she prepared for clients were fraudulent: She added false items on the Schedules A and C and residential energy credit forms without the knowledge and consent of her clients, who either received inflated federal refunds or paid less taxes than were owed. For tax year 2019, Carter also prepared a false individual income tax return for herself, fraudulently reducing her tax liability.
In total, Carter’s crimes caused a federal tax loss of at least $376,248.
Separately, Carter devised and repeatedly executed a scheme to defraud the Paycheck Protection Program and the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance Program.
She submitted PPP applications to financial institutions that contained false supporting documentation, such as a false Schedule C that had never been filed. Despite fraudulently obtaining three PPP loans for Binn’s and herself, Carter filed a fraudulent Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) application with the Virginia Employment Commission that contained false information about her employment status. Through this scheme, she unlawfully received some $100,000.
Sentencing is Sept. 19. Carter faces a maximum of 30 years in prison.