March 11, 2022 By Michael Dorgan
An Astoria accounting professor who owns a local tax consultancy was sentenced to 14 months in prison on Wednesday for preparing false tax returns – following a sting operation by investigators infiltrated.
Ahmed Abdelhalim, who teaches at LaGuardia Community College, was convicted in federal court in Brooklyn after pleading guilty in October to one count of making false tax returns for clients of his firm Master Tax Consultants, located at 21-34 Broadway, according to the U.S. Attorney. New York Eastern District Office.
According to federal court documents, Abdelhalim falsified personal income forms for his clients for the 2012 to 2016 tax years, costing the Internal Revenue Service nearly $167,000. One of his clients, however, turned out to be an investigator.
Abdelhalim has inflated or invented deductions for charitable donations on his clients’ tax returns. He also created expenses for his clients that they did not incur.
Another maneuver Abdelhalim used was to submit bogus Schedule C forms on behalf of his clients. Forms are typically used by freelancers and small business operators. The ruse helped his clients reduce their tax liability by creating losses even though they did not have such businesses.
The United States Department of Justice recommended to the court that Abdelhalim serve time in prison for the offenses – despite his guilty plea – given that he repeatedly used his professional training and expertise to defraud the United States government.
The DOJ noted that Abdelhalim was a professor of accounting and income tax at LaGuardia Community College as well as a certified public accountant.
“Helping others intentionally not pay their fair share of taxes is a serious crime that affects every member of society, as a loss of funds for essential shared government services slowly erodes the fabric of our communities,” said the DOJ in its sentencing memorandum.
“The defendant was not unhappy or desperate to find an income to support his family. On the contrary, he acted out of sheer greed to grow his business.
The DOJ also recommends Abdelhalim pay $166,900 in restitution to the IRS, which the judge ordered.
A spokesperson for LaGuardia Community College told the Queens Post that Abdelhalim has been relieved of his teaching duties with immediate effect and that the institution is set to terminate his employment.