Crime Watch: November 28, 2012

Los Angeles Woman Sentenced to Federal Prison for Making False Claims with IRS

Appearing before US District Judge Virginia A. Phillips, a Los Angeles woman was sentenced to twenty-one months in federal prison for making a false claim for payment against the IRS. 
 
Kelly Tezino, thirty-five, was further ordered to pay restitution of $533,434 to the IRS and to spend two years on supervised release following her prison sentence. Tezino will begin serving her prison sentence on January 28, 2013.
 
Tezino pleaded guilty in August to a one-count information charging her with preparing and filing with the IRS a false 2006 income tax return for an individual reporting false wages and tax withholdings from an employer for which the individual never worked.
 
According to documents filed with the court, Tezino admitted that from approximately March 2006 to February 2009, she knowingly filed at least seventy-six fraudulent income tax returns, falsely claiming refunds of approximately $533,434.  
 
The income tax returns prepared and filed by Tezino often claimed refunds based on false Forms W-2, which completely fabricated the individual's salary and withholdings. Additionally, Tezino used her personal, her children's, and her associates' personal bank accounts as the bank account reported on the false returns where the fraudulent direct deposits were to be deposited by the IRS.
 
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Colorado Man Sentenced to Ten Years in Prison
 
Curtis L. Morris, age forty-three, of Elizabeth, Colorado, was sentenced in Denver to 120 months in prison followed by three years of supervised release by US District Court Judge Robert E. Blackburn, the Justice Department and IRS announced. Judge Blackburn also ordered Morris to pay $1,916,831 in restitution to the IRS.
 
Morris was found guilty on April 30, 2012, after a three-week jury trial, of three counts of mail fraud, seventeen counts of filing false claims against the United States, and one count of conspiracy to defraud the United States.
 
According to the testimony at trial, Morris and others conspired to file false federal income tax returns claiming large tax refunds based on fictitious federal income tax withholdings taken from bogus Forms 1099-OID for themselves and others. 
 
Codefendant Richard Kellogg Armstrong, age seventy-seven, of Prescott, Arizona, was sentenced on August 10, 2012, to nine years in prison followed by three years of supervised release.
 
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Jewelry Store Owner Convicted for Eight-Year Conspiracy to Defraud IRS
 
A federal jury sitting in Santa Ana, California, on November 21, 2012, convicted Safieh Fard of one count of conspiracy to defraud the IRS and one count of conspiracy to launder the proceeds of bank fraud obtained after submitting fraudulent mortgage applications.
 
Fard's coconspirators, her sister Sedigheh Bahramian, and two of her sons, Mohsen Kikalaye and Ahmad Kikalaye, pleaded guilty to related counts of bank fraud in 2010.
 
According to the indictment and evidence introduced at trial, starting in 1997 and continuing through 2004, Fard and her coconspirators purchased valuable residential real estate properties, including numerous beachfront properties in Newport Beach, California. In order to obtain mortgages to purchase these properties, Fard and her coconspirators provided false information to federally insured banks that substantially overstated their income and assets on mortgage applications. Fard submitted mortgage applications that falsely stated she earned over $40,000 per month, despite claiming no taxable income on her federal income tax returns during the eight-year conspiracy.
                                    
The evidence also established that Fard and her coconspirators bought, sold, and transferred ownership of the properties between and among themselves. Ultimately, the properties were sold to third parties resulting in substantial monetary gain. Fard and her coconspirators then failed to report capital gains on more than $3.7 million from these sales on their federal income tax returns.
 
The evidence further established that Fard and her coconspirators Mohsen Kikalaye and Ahmad Kikalaye sold Newport Beach properties to unrelated third parties and received the proceeds in a large lump-sum payment by either wire transfer or check. Fraud proceeds were then transferred through multiple bank accounts to an account in the name of Fard's coconspirator Ahmad Kikalaye, who withdrew proceeds in cash in amounts slightly below the $10,000 federal reporting requirement. Fraud proceeds were also used to buy new real estate properties.
           
Sentencing is scheduled for April 8, 2013.                                                                         
 
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Used Car Wholesaler Sentenced on Tax Evasion 
 
Mohammad Jafar Nikbakht, aka Freydoon Nikbakht, was sentenced to fifteen months in prison for evading his individual income taxes, the Justice Department and the IRS announced. 
 
According to the indictment and other documents filed with the court, Nikbakht ran a series of lucrative auto dealerships in the greater San Diego area and significantly under-reported income earned through these businesses. John A. Houston, US District Court Judge for the Southern District of California, who presided over the sentencing hearing, found that Nikbakht caused over $200,000 in tax loss.
 
Judge Houston ordered Nikbakht to make restitution payments to the IRS for $124,454 of this amount.
           
Nikbakht had pleaded guilty to tax evasion on March 30, 2011. At his plea hearing, he admitted that during 2007 he earned income through auto dealership operations, including through a dealership called Southern California Car Exchange. Nikbakht further admitted that he willfully failed to file his personal tax return and pay his taxes for 2007, and that he engaged in various acts to conceal income from the IRS. For example, Nikbakht admitted that he operated under another dealer's license and that he instructed the other dealer to write his income payment checks to the order of a third party or to "cash."
 
Source: US Department of Justice
 

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