Florida Tax Preparer Pleads Guilty to Identity Theft and Wire Fraud

Ernst Pierre, a Port St. Lucie, Fla., tax preparer, pleaded guilty today to wire fraud and aggravated identity theft, the Justice Department and Internal Revenue Service (IRS) announced. Pierre was charged with a scheme to file false federal income tax returns using stolen identity information.

According to the indictment and Pierre’s admissions in his plea, from October 2009 through May 2011, Pierre filed false tax returns for clients of Tax Max, a Port St. Lucie tax return preparation business he owned and operated. Pierre obtained the names and Social Security numbers of relatives of clients for whom he had prepared and submitted federal income tax returns and then fraudulently used those names and Social Security numbers as “dependents” on other client tax returns and on his own tax return. Inclusion of a dependent on a federal income tax return can result in a higher tax refund.

Sentencing has been set for July 2, 2012, before the Judge Donald L. Graham of the Southern District of Florida. Pierre faces a maximum potential sentence of 20 years in prison for the wire fraud count and a mandatory two-year sentence for the aggravated identity theft count. Pierre also faces up to $500,000 in fines and an order of mandatory restitution.

This case was investigated by IRS – Criminal Investigation special agents. Trial Attorneys Justin K. Gelfand and Thomas J. Krepp of the Justice Department’s Tax Division are prosecuting the case with the assistance of the U.S. Attorney’s Office in the Southern District of Florida.

Florida Woman Sentenced for Preparing False Tax Returns
On December 16, 2013, in Fort Pierce, Fla., Maria Garcia, of Okeechobee County, was sentenced to 18 months in prison and one year of supervised release for aiding and assisting in the preparation and presentation of false tax returns. Garcia was also ordered to pay restitution of $534,946 and a special assessment of $100. In addition, Garcia is permanently barred from ever preparing federal income tax returns for other persons. According to statements made in court and documents filed in the case, Garcia prepared multiple fraudulent tax returns for customers from January 2008 through May 2013, first while working for other tax preparers and then in her own tax preparation business. She prepared the returns, supplied false income and deduction figures, failed to review them in detail with the taxpayers, and then electronically filed the returns for those taxpayers.

Florida Man Sentenced for Preparing False Tax Returns
On December 17, 2013, in Fort Pierce, Fla., Ventrell Bouie was sentenced to 24 months in prison, one year of supervised release and ordered to pay $288,478 in restitution. Bouie has agreed to be permanently enjoined by a Consent Judgment and Order filed in a parallel civil case, barring him in the future from ever preparing federal income tax returns for other persons. Bouie was sentenced on charges of aiding and assisting the preparation and presentation of false tax returns. According to statements made in open court and court documents, Bouie prepared multiple fraudulent tax returns for customers from January 2008 through December 2012. He supplied false income and deduction figures, failed to review the returns in detail with the taxpayers, and then electronically filed the returns for those taxpayers

Tax Preparer Sentenced for Preparing False Tax Returns
On May 8, 2014, in Orlando, Florida, Fane Dacosta, of Daytona Beach, was sentenced to 28 months in prison, one year of supervised release and ordered pay $656,084 in restitution to the IRS. Dacosta was convicted by a federal jury on January 30, 2014 for aiding in the preparation of false tax returns and failing to file his own tax returns. According to evidence presented at trial, Dacosta was the owner of “More Than Enaf Refund & Affordable Tax Services,” a tax return business in Holly Hill, Florida. For the tax years 2006 through 2009, Dacosta prepared returns for individuals in which he falsified the amounts of deductions and tax credits owed to taxpayers, resulting in those taxpayers receiving undeserved tax refunds. In particular, Dacosta fraudulently claimed education credits for clients who never attended college, and he inflated itemized deductions. In addition, Dacosta failed to file his personal tax returns in 2007, 2008, and 2009, despite earning over $100,000, $200,000, and $300,000 in each of those years, respectively.