All Certified Public Accountants (CPAs), or those claiming to be CPAs, are not created equally. Case in point is Elmer Virula formerly of Nashville, Tennessee. In a press release by the Department of Justice on December 5, 2011, the DOJ stated that Virula was sentenced to twenty-four months in prison for fraudulent preparation and submission of tax returns to the IRS and was fined $167,535.00 for false claims, credits and deductions, and he is no longer allowed to act as a CPA or prepare any tax returns for others.
Virula was indicted on April 8, 2010 for sixteen counts of aiding and assisting in the preparation of false income tax returns. He owned three tax preparation businesses located in Tennessee that almost exclusively assisted the Hispanic community. For the tax years of 2003 to 2006, Virula prepared returns claiming fraudulent fuel, education, and telephone excise tax credits.
During the sentencing hearing witnesses testified that Virula represented himself as a CPA and minister to the Hispanic community when in fact he did not even have a college degree. It was also testified by witnesses that Virula trained his employees on how to enter false credits on client's tax returns.
Christopher Henry, Special Agent in Charge of IRS Criminal Investigations, sent a warning to those seeking tax preparation services for the upcoming tax season. He stated that taxpayers should choose their preparers carefully and be sure to understand their returns fully as they are ultimately responsible for what is claimed. Jerry Martin, United States Attorney, echoed Agent Henry's sentiments by stating, "Those that attempt to defraud the IRS and prey upon the immigrant community should be aware that the federal government...will prosecute them to the fullest extent of the law."