The Justice Department announced on Wednesday that a federal court in Akron has entered an order barring James Binge and Terrence Bentivegna from promoting abusive tax schemes and preparing federal tax returns for others.
Judge John R. Adams of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Ohio found that Binge and Bentivegna, who are from the Canton, Ohio area, sold sham trusts and prepared income tax returns for customers that hid income and claimed improper deductions. The court also found that the pair promoted a scheme that falsely asserts that customers need not report income earned within the United States. The court said that the two men “knew or should have known” that their statements to customers about their schemes were false. The court noted that the IRS estimated that the pair’s activities have cost the U.S. Treasury $18.9 million.
The preliminary injunction order bars the two men from selling fraudulent tax schemes, preparing federal income tax returns for customers, and representing customers before the IRS. Binge and Bentivegna also were ordered to mail a copy of the order to each customer and to give the Justice Department a list with their customers’ names, addresses, phone numbers, e-mail addresses and Social Security or employer identification numbers.
“Case by case, we are stopping the fraudulent activities of scammers, who cheat all law-abiding taxpayers by promoting fraudulent tax schemes,” said Eileen J. O’Connor, Assistant Attorney General for the Justice Department’s Tax Division. “We are also methodically identifying the scammers’ customers, who will not only have to pay their back tax liabilities, but can expect civil penalties and, where appropriate, criminal prosecution.”