An Ohio man who faced a potential sentence of 90 years in prison was recently acquitted of all charges after a two-week-long tax fraud trial. The man was accused of making false claims on behalf of the clients he served as a tax preparer. Read on to learn more about the case, and contact a dedicated Texas tax fraud defense attorney for help with an IRS tax problem in Dallas or Tyler, Texas.
Indictment alleged preparer claimed hundreds of thousands of dollars in false refunds
Sergio Gardea is a tax preparer based in Ohio. Gardea works primarily with Spanish-speaking agricultural workers in and around Akron and Canton, some of whom are undocumented. Many of his clients’ families remain in their countries of origin. According to an indictment filed against Gardea in September 2017 by US attorneys, a five-year-long IRS investigation revealed that Gardea had filed returns for dozens of clients that included fraudulent claims for child tax credits. The IRS alleged that Gardea had fraudulently included child tax credit claims for people whose children remained outside the US, even though child tax credits may be claimed only when dependents spend most of the year in the US. The IRS used an undercover agent in an attempt to witness Gardea seeking a child tax credit when it was not warranted. Gardea prepared the return for the undercover agent but did not include a child tax credit since the agent did not qualify.
At trial, Gardea faced 21 counts of tax fraud for falsely-claimed child tax credits, to which he pleaded not guilty. His attorney argued that the clients could not remember signing a child tax credit information sheet attesting that they had been honest with their preparer and believed they were qualified for the child tax credit. Thus, the attorney argued, Gardea had asked all the right questions of his clients, but erred only in believing that his clients had been truthful with him. Gardea was acquitted of all 21 counts, and another nine charges that had been added later in the trial were dropped.
Claims made in a federal indictment may be worth fighting at trial
Federal charges of tax fraud often come with steep punishment. Maximum potential prison terms can sometimes amount to a lifetime sentence, not to mention the imposition of thousands of dollars in restitution, penalties and interest that come with a conviction. It’s easy to understand why so many individuals facing tax fraud charges are eager to settle their claims as quickly as possible by pleading guilty to somewhat reduced charges, whether or not they committed the acts as described in the indictment. But guilty pleas can also come with enormous fines and have career-ending consequences. In some cases, skillful legal representation can mean the difference between spending years in a federal prison or walking away after being declared innocent of all charges. If you’re facing an indictment on federal tax evasion or fraud, find out about your legal options by contacting a knowledgeable and experienced tax fraud defense attorney before discussing a plea with prosecutors.
If you’re facing a complicated tax issue involving back taxes, tax fraud, or false returns, get skilled legal help with your case from the Texas tax lawyers at the Scammahorn Law Firm at (903) 595-1000, with offices in Dallas and Tyler.