Caused $14.6 Million in Fraudulent Tax Refund Claims to be Filed with IRS
A Florida man was sentenced to 51 months in prison for his role in a nationwide tax fraud scheme that involved more than 200 participants in at least 19 states.
According to court documents and statements made in court, Aaron Aqueron, of Clermont, recruited clients to the fraud scheme by convincing them that their mortgages and other debts entitled them to tax refunds. Aqueron collected tax and financial information from the clients to send to co-conspirators, who prepared tax returns and other tax documents to submit to the IRS. These tax returns falsely claimed that banks and other financial institutions had withheld large amounts of income tax from the participants, thereby entitling the clients to a refund. In reality, the financial institutions had not paid any income to, or withheld any taxes from, these individuals. In total, the tax returns filed by Aqueron’s clients sought more than $14.6 million in tax refunds and caused the IRS to actually pay out more than $7.6 million.
Civil and criminal employment tax enforcement is among the Tax Division’s highest priorities. Employers have a legal responsibility to collect and pay over to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) taxes withheld from their employees’ wages. These employment taxes include withheld federal income tax, as well as the employees’ share of social security and Medicare taxes (collectively known as FICA taxes). Employers also have an independent responsibility to pay the employer’s share of FICA taxes.
When employers willfully fail to collect, account for and deposit with the IRS employment tax due, they are stealing from their employees and ultimately, the United States Treasury. In addition, employers who willfully fail to comply with their obligations and unlawfully line their own pockets with amounts withheld are gaining an unfair advantage over their honest competitors.
Audrey Strauss, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, David A. Hubbert, Acting Assistant Attorney General for the Justice Department’s Tax Division, and Charles P. Rettig, Commissioner of the Internal Revenue Service (“IRS”), announced that U.S. District Judge Gregory H. Woods entered an order yesterday authorizing the IRS to issue summonses requiring multiple couriers and financial institutions to produce information about U.S. taxpayers who may have used the services of Panama Offshore Legal Services (“POLS”) and its associates (together, the “POLS Group”) to evade federal income taxes. Specifically, the IRS summonses seek to trace courier deliveries and electronic fund transfers between the POLS Group and its clients, in order to identify the POLS Group’s U.S. taxpayer clients who have used the POLS Group’s services to create or control foreign assets and entities to avoid compliance with their U.S. tax obligations.
Manhattan U.S. Attorney Audrey Strauss said: “This action underscores our Office’s commitment to hold accountable those who use offshore service providers to avoid U.S. taxes. In issuing these John Doe summonses, we continue our joint efforts with the IRS to investigate tax evaders who use foreign financial accounts and sham foreign entities to hide their assets.”
According to the superseding indictment, from 2010 through 2018, Jason Kachner, his spouse Rebecca Kachner, and Ronald DiPietro conspired to operate Skilled Shamrock, an illegal gambling business in Canton, Ohio, and to defraud the IRS in connection with income generated by that business. From 2012 through 2017, patrons at Skilled Shamrock allegedly wagered more than $34 million, producing more than $4 million in net income.
The superseding indictment further charges that from 2013 through 2018, both of the Kachners and Thomas Helmick conspired to operate another Canton-based illegal gambling business, Redemption Skill Games 777 (Redemption). They allegedly conspired to defraud the IRS by filing false tax returns that concealed a substantial portion of Redemption’s gross receipts and concealed Redemption’s true ownership.
The Tax Division handles or authorizes most civil and criminal litigation that concerns or relates to the internal revenue laws in federal district and appellate courts. Tax Division attorneys seek to secure correct, uniform and fair interpretations of the internal revenue laws and to ensure that uniform standards are applied in criminal tax prosecutions. Tax Division attorneys work closely with the Internal Revenue Service and United States Attorneys’ Offices to develop tax administration policies; handle civil trial and appellate litigation in federal and state courts; pursue federal grand jury investigations; and handle criminal prosecutions and appeals. To the greatest extent possible, the Tax Division coordinates the use of both civil and criminal enforcement tools, to maximize the deterrent effect of its litigation and to enhance collection efforts.
Significant recent Tax Division initiatives include the following: