Good Grief Charlie Brown! Project Linus President Embezzles $400k from Charity

The former President of Project Linus, a nonprofit that provides handmade blankets for children who are seriously ill, has been sentenced to prison for wire fraud, mail fraud, money laundering and tax evasion as a result of stealing more than $400,000 from the organization.

Carol Babbitt was the organization’s national president from 2000 to 2016, and in 2010 began using company credit cards to pay for personal expenses including clothing, furniture, electronics, pet grooming, tickets for sporting events and personal travel. She covered her tracks by falsely classifying the expenditures in the organization’s books. In addition she failed to report the stolen funds on her tax returns.

Babbitt was sentenced to 30 months in prison and ordered to pay Project Linus $410,210 in restitution and $7,586 to the Illinois department of revenue.

That’s a Lot of Tacos – Owner of Mexican Restaurant Files False Tax Returns, Hides $2.5 Million in Sales

Juan Hurtado, the owner of five Pepe’s Mexican restaurant franchises in Chicago, pleaded guilty to filing false tax returns and underreporting his income by approximately 2.5 million dollars. From 2016 to 2018 Hurtado filed 11 false tax returns with the IRS. He also admitted to giving his accountants false sales reports that underreported the gross receipts and sales of his restaurants.

Hurtado faces up to three years in federal prison, plus restitution of unpaid taxes, penalties and fees to the IRS.

Trail of Blood Leads to Garbage Bags Stashed with Cash

A couple in Pennsylvania was sentenced to prison after police discovered more than $800,000 in cash in their home. Matthew and Kim Forney’s troubles began when their daughter’s boyfriend shot them in a domestic dispute. After the police arrived at the scene they discovered bloody footprints leading to a pool house that contained a large trash bag filled with cash. Later they found a gun safe with more bundles of cash.

From 2014 to 2017 the Forneys pocketed the cash and only deposited checks from their business sales into their business bank accounts. They only reported check and credit card sales on their tax returns. They maintained meticulous records and the cash found in their home was attached to business receipts.

The Forneys unreported income totaled $817,713, which resulted in $292,066 in unpaid taxes. Matthew Forney was sentenced to 12 months and one day in prison and his wife Kim was sentenced to 12 months.

The charges against the daughter’s boyfriend were dropped after a judge ruled certain evidence inadmissible in court.

Nike Employee Just Did It and Then Got Caught

Errol Andam, a former Nike marketing manager, has been charged with wire fraud, money laundering and making false statements on a tax return.

Andam managed the design, build-out and operation of pop-up retail venues for Nike, and in 2016 recruited a childhood friend to establish a company to design and build the venues for the company. Andam made sure his friend’s company was consistently awarded the contracts for these jobs, then proceeded to control his friend’s company’s financial operations, including invoices to Nike.

Andam created an alter ego, “Frank Little” to handle the Nike account and his friend’s Square credit card processing account, where Nike funds were deposited. He then had the funds from Square diverted to his own LLC.

As he got bolder, Andam began having sales at the pop-ups diverted directly into his own company. From 2016 to 2018 Andam diverted and embezzled almost 1.4 million dollars

He faces a maximum prison sentence of 30 years and fines of up to 4.5 million dollars.

The Ace at the Bank Caused Schemer’s Fall From Grace

Taressa Hightower, of Georgia, pleaded guilty to two counts of filing false tax returns in connection with bogus charitable organizations.

Between 2010 and 2015 Hightower received more than $650,000 from a bank in Boston for two non-profit organizations that claimed to serve underprivileged children in Atlanta, Georgia. The money Hightower received were the proceeds of an embezzlement scheme perpetrated by Palestine Ace, an employee of the bank, who was married to Jonathan Ace, a relative of Hightower’s. In exchange for the ‘donations’ Hightower agreed to return 25% of the money to the Aces as a secret kickback.

None of the funds were used for charitable purposes. Hightower spent the money on personal expenses and for 2013 and 2014 filed false personal and business tax returns. She claimed significant amounts of non-existent and inflated business expenses in order to lower her personal tax liability.

Palestine and Jonathan Ace were convicted of embezzlement in 2018 and sentenced to one and two years in prison, respectively.

Hightower faces a maximum sentence of up to three years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000.

Embezzling Comptroller Gets Shipped to Prison

Between 2007 and 2019 the comptroller for Gulf-Dan Shipping, Deepak Jagtani, embezzled more than $7,000,000 dollars from the company.

Jagtani controlled payroll for Gulf-Dan and used his access to pay himself excessive salaries and benefits.

He also admitted to filing false tax returns from 2014 to 2017. He reported business losses from a fake catering business he claimed he and his wife owned in order to offset his income, and avoided paying $1,232,267 in federal income taxes.

The wire fraud charges earned Jagtani a 63 month prison sentence, and the charge for filing false tax returns resulted in a 36 month sentence. Both sentences will be served concurrently. Jagtani was also ordered to pay $7,000,000 in restitution to Gulf-Dan Shipping and $1,232,267 to the IRS.

Multi-Level Marketer Commits Multi-Levels of Fraud

Theresa Gregory, of Ohio, has been sentenced to 36 months in prison, and her daughter, Tera Gore, has been sentenced to six months in prison for evading the assessment and payment of taxes.

Between 2008 and 2017 Gregory earned, $17,498,680 as a distributor for multi-level marketing companies, but failed to file any tax returns. Gore was instrumental in helping her mother hide her income by transferring the bulk of it into accounts in her name, while her mother continued to have access to the funds. Gregory led an extravagant lifestyle and shopped at high end retailers such as Gucci, Jimmy Choo and Saks Fifth Avenue. She spent funds on cruises, horse dealers, quarter horse events, homes and luxury cars.

Gore had access to her mother’s money and used the funds on personal expenses for herself and her family, including tutors and horse trainers.

Gregory and Gore were ordered to pay 3.3 million dollars in restitution, and Gore was ordered to pay another $20,000 in fines.

Slippery Slope for Petroleum Field Supervisor Caught in Hot Oil

David West, a 30-year employee of Petco Petroleum in Illinois, stole over $400,000 from the oil and gas company between 2013 and 2017. West formed a shell company, Flash Electric Services, through which he submitted invoices totaling $129,038 to Petco for services that were never rendered. He also stole oil from the company that he later sold to a reclaimer for $266,802, and even charged his employer $5,306 for trucks he hired to transport their own stolen oil.

West faces up to 20 years in prison and must pay restitution of $400,000.

Healthcare Businessman Prescribes Himself a Yacht and Maserati

Richard Rief, a St. Louis businessman, was indicted on 14 counts of failure to collect and pay over employment taxes and two counts of failure to file or pay tax.

Rief owned and operated Med Plus Staffing, a healthcare staffing business, and Rief Healthcare, a hospice care company. He reported employment taxes due to the IRS, but failed to pay them, except when necessary to convince the IRS to let him set up an installment agreement. Once the agreement was in place he never made another payment. In total, Rief failed to pay over $522,000 in employment taxes he collected from his employees’ paychecks.

In 2015 and 2016, Rief also failed to pay individual taxes due of approximately $107,332. During this time he led a lavish lifestyle and spent money on luxury items including a 50 foot yacht, a Maserati and a hangar for his private plane.

In addition to restitution to the IRS, Rief faces five years in prison for failing to pay over the employment taxes and one year in prison for failure to file each tax return.

How to Amend a Tax Return for a Prior Year

Tax returns can often be filed with incomplete or incorrect information, leading you to more tax trouble than you bargained for. If you filed early, you might have overlooked income from a temporary job or a side gig, only to get a 1099 or late W2 for the income earned.

Other filers may eventually realize that they were entitled to an extra deduction or exemption. The Internal Revenue Service routinely processes a significant number of amended returns each year and provides a specific form for changing the status of an earlier tax return.

Individual income tax returns filed with the IRS can be amended up to three years after the due date of the original return by filing IRS Form 1040X. However, we strongly suggest consulting a tax resolution professional to help with your amended return. They can often file multiple years of unfiled tax returns, help you settle for a fraction of what you owe, and at the very least save you a headache.

Note: If you know you’ll have outstanding tax debt and owe more than $10k to the IRS or state but can’t pay in full, contact our firm today. We help people find tax relief and sometimes settle their tax debt for a fraction of what’s owed.

 

How Amended Tax Returns Work

Returns containing simple math mistakes are usually corrected automatically and do not require an amended return. Filing an amended return should be considered after the filer realizes the need for a change in filing status, income, allowable deductions or credits. The statute of limitations generally allows three years for each filer to claim any tax benefit not included on a prior return.

An increase in reported income is likely to result in additional tax due, but an additional deduction or allowable tax credit could result in a refund.

Unreported income is a common oversight and it’s better to report your income than it is for the IRS to come after you and add penalties and interest to your tax debt.

Form 1040X is not eligible for electronic filing and must be mailed in, this is also why we recommend hiring a professional to do this for you. A separate Form 1040X is necessary for each year being amended, and each must be mailed in its own envelope to the address provided in the instructions.

The amended return essentially adds the corrections to the original return. There is a block of space on the form to explain all changes. The explanation for each line change should include the line number followed by a clear reason for the change. Lines that entail no change need no explanation. A copy of the original return itself should not be attached, but any added IRS forms must be included to support the changes. Any other supporting documents necessary to substantiate the amendment will also need to be attached.

It can take several weeks for the IRS to process an amended return. An amendment to the federal return might also require a change to the state tax return of the filer, especially if an increase in income is to be reported.

 

OWE BACK TAXES?

If you’re going to owe money to the IRS after filing your return, It’s important to note that only experienced firms like ours are able to handle tax debt cases since negotiating with the IRS requires specialized skills that often fall outside of the scope of most conventional accounting, tax, and tax law firms.

Our firm specializes in tax problem resolution. We have CPAs, EAs and attorneys who can represent you before the IRS. We serve clients virtually so don’t hesitate to reach out.  If you want an expert tax resolution specialist who knows how to navigate the IRS maze, reach out to our firm and we’ll schedule a no-obligation confidential consultation to explain your options to permanently resolve your tax problem.