Federal tax enforcement is focused

Posted at 1:31 PM, Apr 13, 2016
and last updated 2016-04-13 16:31:32-04

With the annual tax filing deadline approaching on April 15, U.S. Attorney Benjamin B. Wagner noted that his office had taken a number of criminal enforcement actions in recent months in tax evasion cases in the Eastern District of California. The U.S. Attorney’s Office works with the Internal Revenue Service – Criminal Investigation and other law enforcement partners to enforce federal tax laws.

“This is an appropriate time of year to remind those few individuals who set out to cheat or evade their tax obligations that such conduct can result in prosecution,” said U.S. Attorney Wagner. “Every year some deliberately fail to file required returns or file false and fraudulent returns in order to evade the assessment and payment of tax due. It is the obligation of this office to pursue and prosecute them for their criminal conduct.”

“All Americans have a responsibility to pay taxes. In today’s economic environment, it’s more important than ever that people feel confident that everyone is playing by the rules and paying the taxes they owe,” said Michael T. Batdorf, IRS-CI Special Agent in Charge of the Oakland Field Office. “Those who file accurate, honest and timely returns can be assured that the government will hold accountable those who don’t. IRS-CI and the Department of Justice will investigate and prosecute those who violate our tax system.”

Cases involving IRS employees are investigated jointly by the Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA) and IRS-CI. Rod Ammari, Special Agent-in-Charge of TIGTA’s San Francisco Field Division stated: “It is very important that the American taxpayers have confidence in the IRS and its functions. When IRS employees use their insider knowledge to file fraudulent tax returns, we are committed to prosecuting these individuals to the fullest extent of the law. IRS employees committing tax fraud cannot be tolerated.”

Indictments in the Eastern District of California so far in 2016:*

*The charges in an indictment are only allegations; the defendant is presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.

U.S. v. Davis — Indicted on March 31, 2016. Sherrell Davis, 42, of Benicia, allegedly submitted fraudulent claims for tax refunds in the names of other people and assisted in preparing fraudulent tax returns seeking thousands of dollars in refunds. (2:16-cr-072)

U.S. v. Black — Indicted on March 24, 2016. Kenley Black, 41, formerly of Burney, allegedly failed to file tax returns for tax years 2009 to 2013 and evaded paying more than $225,000 in taxes for those years. (2:16-cr-062)

U.S. v. Boone et al. — Indicted on February 10, 2016. Marty Boone, 54, and his wife Ronda Boone, 53, both of Vallejo, allegedly filed separate false tax returns claiming million-dollar refunds. Marty Boone was paid approximately $1.9 million, which they laundered by moving it through various accounts, including one in Cyprus. (2:16-cr-020)

U.S. v. Rocha, et al. — Indicted on January 14, 2016. Lorita Marie Rocha, 35, of Fresno, and Nereida Rodriguez, 28, of Firebaugh, allegedly filed fraudulent tax returns using stolen identities of over two dozen individuals that Rocha obtained through her employment with the IRS as a seasonal tax examiner. They claimed over $100,000 in refunds. (1:16?cr?001)

U.S. v. Chambers et al. — Indicted on January 14, 2016. Denna Chambers, 33, of Woodland, and Starsheka Mixon, 32, of Pinole, allegedly filed approximately 178 fraudulent income tax returns requesting more than $900,000 in refunds. (2:16-cr-010)

Convictions in 2016:

U.S. v. Cooper et al. — On April 12, 2016, Tiana Naples, 29, of Vallejo pleaded guilty to conspiring to submit false claims. On February 9, 2016, her co-defendant Leticia Roque, 49, of Vallejo, was sentenced to 30 months in prison, for conspiring to submit false claims and aggravated identity theft. Together, Naples and Roque submitted 60 false tax returns requesting more than $200,000 in refunds in the names of other people. (2:14-cr-022)

U.S. v. Kuzmenko et al. — On April 8, 2016, Aleksandr Kuzmenko, 32, of Loomis, pleaded guilty to conspiring to defraud the U.S. in connection with his participation in a tax refund fraud scheme. Kuzmenko conspired with others to file approximately 90 fraudulent tax returns with the IRS for the 2008 tax year using various identities, including some that were stolen. The fraudulent claims totaled approximately $695,000, which resulted in a loss of more than $570,000 to the IRS. (2:14-cr-044)

U.S. v. Shchirskiy et al. — On April 7, 2016, Vladislav Atamanyuk, 28, of Sacramento County, pleaded guilty to conspiring to submit fraudulent claims for tax refunds using the identities of various individuals, some of which were stolen. Atamanyuk and his co?conspirators claimed more than $650,000 in fraudulent refunds, although the IRS issued about $88,000 in connection with the scheme. (2:14-cr-198)

U.S. v. Miller — On February 5, 2016, Linda J. Miller, 63, of Woodland, pleaded guilty to filing a false tax return. Miller provided bookkeeping services, and she admitted that on her 2008 tax return, she did not report $138,000 in checks she received. (2:15?cr?066)

U.S. v. Knockum — On January 29, 2016, Kenneth Knockum, 48, of Vallejo, was found guilty at trial of filing false returns seeking large refunds — two returns requested refunds of over $1.4 million each — he generated false 1099-OIDs and other tax forms to support the claimed income and taxes. The IRS caught the majority of the false returns but over $125,000 in fraudulent refunds were issued. (2:14?cr-115)

Sentences in 2016:

U.S. v. Castro — On April 6, 2016, Yolanda Castro, 48, a 20-year employee of the IRS in Fresno, was sentenced to one year in prison and ordered to pay $37,387 in restitution for aiding in the preparation of a false tax return. Between 2007 and 2013, she prepared and filed false federal income tax returns for herself, her family members and others in which she fraudulently claimed tax deductions and credits. (1:15-cr-050)

U.S. v. Williams — On March 31, 2016, Jasmine Ann Williams, 26, of Sacramento, was sentenced to three years of probation for using her position as a volunteer tax preparer to steal two tax refunds totaling $10,745 from two individuals. Williams was also ordered to pay restitution to the two victims. (2:15-cr-206)

U.S. v. Eidson — On March 21, 2106, Brandon Adam Eidson, 34, of Turlock, was sentenced to three years and one month in prison and ordered to pay $433,205 in restitution for structuring cash transactions and filing false tax returns. Between 2008 and 2010, he underreported approximately $1.2 million in gross receipts for his business Hooked Up Hydroponics. Eidson deposited more than $1.5 million in increments of $10,000 or less in an attempt to prevent his bank from filing Currency Transaction Reports. (1:15?cr-085)

U.S. v. Bonderer et al. — On March 10, 2016, Clint D. Bonderer, 37, of Stockton, was sentenced to three years in prison for conspiring to submit false claims. Co-defendant Slavic Khudoy, 36, of Loomis, pleaded guilty today, April 13, 2016. Bonderer and Khudoy submitted 842 fraudulent tax returns, requesting more than $600,000 in refunds in the names of other people and in most cases, kept the refunds for themselves. (2:15?cr?028)

U.S. v. Bolanos — In 2008, seven defendants submitted false tax returns claiming they were owed more than $33 million in refunds. In response, the IRS issued approximately $400,000 in unearned refunds. On March 7, 2016, Gaylene Lynnette Bolanos, 58, of Fresno, was sentenced to 10 years in prison and ordered to pay $429,300 in restitution; Leroy Donovan Combs, 74, of Fresno, was sentenced to three years and nine months in prison; Charles Wayne Uptergrove, 57, of Madera County, was sentenced to three years and three months in prison; and Ladonna Lee Moon, 55, of Texas, was sentenced to one year and nine months in prison. On February 29, 2016, Louis Calles, 67, of Fresno, was sentenced to 16 months in prison; and James Schwartz, 61, of Fresno, was sentenced to one year and a day in prison. On January 11, 2106, Oswald Georgner, was sentenced to 18 months in prison. (1:13-cr-362)

U.S. v. Ruiz — On February 3, 2016, Manuel Ruiz, 47, of Sacramento, was sentenced to 18 months in prison for making false claims for tax refunds on federal income tax returns for clients of his home-based tax preparation business. In total, between tax years 2009 and 2011, Ruiz made false claims on more than 180 returns that resulted in over $650,000 paid out by the IRS. After payments to clients, Ruiz retained at least $192,000 from the false claims.

U.S. v. Richards — On January 21, 2106, James Stewart Richards, 69, of West Sacramento, was sentenced to two years in prison for tax evasion. Richards is an attorney and a member of the bar in California and Hawaii. Between 1994 and 2003, Richards evaded paying over $170,000 in federal income taxes. He filed a false “Offer in Compromise” to the IRS that omitted bank accounts and six rental properties. He used a client trust account to hold his own assets. He also made false statements about his assets to a bankruptcy court and to the IRS. (2:10-cr-089)