Russian offensive; caught by the boss; the 30% solution; and other highlights of recent tax cases.
Lake Worth, Florida: Tax preparer Kasali Opabola Jr., 41, who failed to report his business income to the IRS, was sentenced to 18 months in prison and ordered to pay more than $1.2 million in compensation.
Opabola, Sole Principal and Registered Agent of FTP Tax Solutions, grossly under-reported his company’s income for the 2014 and 2015 tax years and did not file a tax return for 2016. He did not pay some $1,289,293 in federal income tax.
Opabola previously pleaded guilty to two counts of filing a false personal income tax return and one count of failing to file a personal income tax return.
Philadelphia Cream: Stanuslav Lukyantsev, a naturalized US citizen from Kyrgyzstan, pleaded guilty to his role in a conspiracy to use stolen identities to produce thousands of fraudulent statements and send much of the illegal proceeds to conspirators in Russia.
Lukyantsev admitted his conspirators filed fraudulent federal tax returns using stolen identities. The statements claimed fraudulent refunds, which were deposited in accounts controlled by the conspirators at several banks in the United States. The conspirators went to ATMs and withdrew the proceeds of their scheme in cash which they then deposited into other bank accounts and transferred much of the money to Russia. Lukyantsev had accounts at three different banks for this purpose.
The conspirators filed 7,167 false and fraudulent returns for the 2011 to 2016 tax years, claiming $11,178,361 in fraudulent refunds. The IRS paid out at least $2,020,569 in fraudulent refunds, of which the conspirators transferred at least $1,411,082 to bank accounts in Russia.
Lukyantsev admitted to getting $10,000 from the scheme, which is to be confiscated from the government. He faces up to 20 years in prison.
Beaverton, Michigan: Tax preparer Mark Alan Patterson, 53, of Gladwin, Michigan, was sentenced to 46 months in prison for wire fraud and tax evasion.
Patterson pleaded guilty to a scheme to steal refunds from more than 160 customers. He admitted to stealing over $600,000.
Patterson worked as a tax preparer for Schuster Tax Service and from 2015 to February 2020 he stole a portion of client refunds by directing the money to bank accounts he controlled. Patterson did not inform customers that he was taking the money from their refunds, instead giving them unfiled versions of statements showing they had a smaller refund.
In late February 2020, the owner of Schuster Tax Service notified law enforcement that Patterson, his former employee, had engaged in potential fraud. The owner uncovered customer returns dating back to 2015 whose refunds had been partly diverted electronically to Patterson.
Alexandria, Virginia: Quin Ngoc Rudin, a convicted felon, pleaded guilty to wire fraud and conspiracy in a scheme to prepare false statements seeking millions of dollars in refunds from the IRS and Paycheck Protection Program .
Rudin was the secretary, manager, and chief financial officer of Mana Tax Services, which claimed to be a tax preparation company in the Los Angeles area. He conspired to commit two sets of frauds using Mana.
From May 2019 until his arrest in December 2021, Rudin and his conspirators prepared and filed a series of fraudulent federal returns on behalf of at least nine professional athletes; returns reported fabricated business and personal losses to obtain large refunds. Rudin and the conspirators represented to the athletes that Rudin was knowledgeable and experienced in tax preparation, and Rudin claimed that Mana could obtain large reimbursements for athletes and that he had specialist knowledge that their previous CPAs and tax specialists did not. didn’t have.
Rudin helped prepare original returns for his athlete clients and has filed amended returns in recent years to correct what he called “errors” made by former athlete accountants. Mana then charged the athletes a fee of 30% of the amount of federal reimbursements. The IRS has issued reimbursements to athletes totaling millions of dollars.
From April 2020 to December 2021, Rudin and his conspirators helped small businesses apply for PPP loans in return for a 30% commission. Rudin and his conspirators also prepared fraudulent PPP loans for business entities controlled by the conspirators. Part of the fraud was to grossly inflate the number of employees and the monthly salary costs claimed on the claims. Some of the companies were not eligible for PPP loan funds at all because they had no payroll charges.
Rudin and his conspirators secured millions of dollars in fraudulently obtained PPP loans.
The conspirators also submitted fabricated statements to support the loan applications. Some of the business owners never saw their loan applications before Mana filed them. Rudin and his conspirators ordered the companies to pay the fees with cashier’s checks and falsely note on the memo lines that the funds were tied to payroll.
Losses for tax fraud and PPP loans total between $25 million and $65 million.
Rudin pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to defraud the United States and to commit wire fraud, as well as one count of wire fraud. Sentencing is August 17, when he faces up to 20 years in prison for wire fraud and five years for conspiracy to defraud the United States and commit wire fraud.
Morton, PA: Former tax collector Rosezanna Czwalina was sentenced to one year in prison and one year of probation for tax evasion.
She pleaded guilty in June to five counts of filing materially false statements as part of her efforts to avoid paying her taxes.
Czwalina, who had been the elected tax collector and treasurer of Ridley Township in Delaware County, Pennsylvania, from 2009 until her resignation in 2021, was allowed to keep, in addition to her income, fees paid for tax certifications and generation of duplicate tax bills. She failed to report those withheld fees as income on her federal tax returns from 2014 to 2018.
She was also ordered to pay $112,846 in restitution.
Jacksonville, Florida: Former Congresswoman Corrine Brown has pleaded guilty to attempting to obstruct and obstruct the administration of domestic tax laws.
Between October 2009 and October 2015, Brown required his CPA to file personal income tax returns for the 2008 through 2014 tax years that did not include income associated with cash deposits in his bank accounts. During the same period, Brown overstated his charitable donations by inflating the total donations to charities and nonprofit entities. She tricked two local nonprofits into creating letters that did not accurately reflect her donations so she could use those letters in an IRS audit.
Brown has previous federal jury convictions for various offences; his earlier conviction was overturned on appeal.
She was sentenced in the latest case to a sentence she had already served (32 months and nine days) and ordered to pay $62,650.99 in restitution to the IRS.
Folsom, California: Businessman Zarko Danilov, 67, pleaded guilty to two counts of making and subscribing to a false statement.
Danilov owned and operated Danilov’s dental laboratory. For the 2015, 2016 and 2017 tax years, he failed to provide his tax preparer with bank statements for one additional business bank account and two personal bank accounts. During a civil audit by the IRS, Danilov lied to a tax auditor about having only one bank account for business and personal affairs.
Danilov’s income for all three tax years was underreported by at least $1,271,694. The total amount lost by the IRS was approximately $283,359.
Sentencing is August 25. Danilov faces a maximum of three years in prison and a $250,000 fine.