As I mentioned in an earlier blog post, federal tax evasion and tax fraud charges typically increase near the tax filing deadline each year. The Dept. of Justice and the IRS have made it clear that they believe that creating public awareness of tax fraud and tax crimes is an important part of their mission. Or to hear it directly from the horse's mouth, IRS Criminal Investigation Special Agent Reginael McDaniel said, "One of the primary missions at IRS Criminal Investigation is to deter tax fraud through education and publicity. I believe that public awareness is a critical element in deterring potential tax fraud, and by educating the public about tax scams and publicizing that offenders are caught and punished, we hope to prevent individuals from taking that fateful step. With the April 18th tax deadline looming, it is important for taxpayers to have confidence that when they pay their taxes, everyone else will do the same."
Along these lines, the U.S. District Attorney's Office for the Northern District of Georgia released a press release highlighting recent criminal tax cases that they were handling. Let's take a look at a few of them:
* Jeff Guinn, 45, of Monroe, Georgia, was convicted by a jury on March 25, 2011, of willfully failing to file income tax returns. GUINN, a plumber who owned his own business, and was a member of the "American Rights Litigators" tax protest group, refused to file federal income tax returns for 2003 through 2006. GUINN asserted that he did not file the returns because he believed the Internal Revenue Code did not apply to him, and that he felt under the Constitution that he was entitled to keep one hundred percent of his income. The jury deliberated for less than two hours before finding him guilty on all 4 counts of willfully failing to file federal income tax returns.
* Lashanze Sharief, 37, of Snellville, Georgia, was charged on April 14, 2011, in a Criminal Information with three felony counts, including filing false tax returns, wire fraud, and aggravated identity theft in connection with a scheme to file fraudulent federal and state tax returns using the names and identifying information of deceased individuals. The Information charged that SHARIEF filed fraudulent returns claiming federal and state tax refunds amounting to $ $466,640.00.
* Deidra McClendon, 37, of Atlanta, Georgia, pleaded guilty on April 4, 2011, before United States District Judge Marvin S. Shoob to charges of filing false tax claims, identity theft and use of a social security number to commit a crime. She admitted using fraudulent 1099 earnings statements and submitting them in support of tax returns of various individuals who were unaware that their personal information was being used to file and obtain tax returns. In 2007, McCLENDON used a fraudulent 1099 form and filed a tax return for the 2006 tax year on behalf of her own mother who died in 2005.
* Dalawni Hollomon, 42, of Snellville, Georgia, pleaded guilty on February 28, 2011, to a three-count Criminal Information charging her with filing false tax returns, wire fraud, and aggravated identity theft in connection with a scheme to file fraudulent federal and state tax returns using the names and identifying information of deceased individuals. HOLLOMON admitted filing returns requesting federal and state tax refunds amounting to $488,872.00.