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Arias sentenced for tax fraud

A Spruce Pine woman will spend tie in prison for her role in conspiracies to file false tax returns and commit money laundering, according to U.S. Attorney Kenneth Allen Polite, Jr. and Acting Deputy Assistant Attorney General Larry J. Wszalek of the Justice Department’s Tax Division.

Jacqueline J. Arias, 40, of Spruce Pine, was sentenced by U.S. District Court Judge Helen G. Berrigan to 97 months in prison, three years of supervised release, and restitution to the United States totaling $10,589,326. Arias was further ordered to forfeit nearly $400,000 in United States currency that was seized as part of the case.

According to the Internal Revenue Service’s Criminal Investigations division, Arias pleaded guilty on July 8 to one count of conspiracy to defraud the United States, six counts of mail fraud, and one count of money laundering conspiracy.

As part of her plea, investigators said Arias admitted to her role in a years-long scheme to defraud the United States by filing false income tax returns that fraudulently claimed large tax refunds.

The IRS said Arias’ husband and 19 other individuals, all foreign nationals, as well as her tax preparation business in Spruce Pine were charged as part of the case as well.

The 16 other defendants who have pleaded guilty and received prison sentences so far include: Cesar Alejandro Soriano (42 months); Oscar Armando Perdomo (42 months); Yoni Perdomo (38 months); Arnulfo Santos-Medrado (38 months); Elsides Edgardo Alvarado-Canales (36 months); Eliecer Obed Rodriguez (34 months); Octavio Josue Perdomo (34 months); Elber Mendoza-Lopez (34 months); Aurelio Montiel-Martinez (24 months); Miller Perdomo-Aceituno (24 months); Santos Martin Hernandez (24 months); and Susana Carillo Mendoza (19 months).

Officials said four other defendants remain fugitives overseas and one defendant, who was recently arrested in Panama, is currently set for trial in December.

According to court documents, Arias and her co-conspirators filed false returns listing Individual Taxpayer Identification Numbers (ITINs), which is a tax processing number issued by the IRS to individuals who do not have, and are not eligible to obtain, a Social Security Number.

As alleged in the second superseding indictment, Arias was a Certified Acceptance Agent, meaning that she was entrusted by the IRS with the responsibility of reviewing the documentation of an ITIN applicant’s identity and alien status for authenticity, completeness and accuracy before submitting their application to the IRS.

The indictment charged that Arias filed false applications for ITINs, false income tax returns, and collected preparation fees from the fraudulently-obtained tax refunds. The indictment also charged Arias with filing false tax returns for her corporation, JB Tax Professional Services, and for herself individually.

“The Department of Justice Tax Division remains committed to vigorously prosecuting complex, large-scale tax fraud schemes that often stretch across our borders,” said Acting Deputy Assistant Attorney General Larry J. Wszalek of the Justice Department’s Tax Division.

“Ms. Arias’ sentence and the sentences of 12 of her co-conspirators, who are collectively spending over 32 years in prison, sends a strong message to return preparers and individuals who engage in this type of tax fraud.

“The Tax Division will continue to work with state and local authorities to prosecute these criminals and will resolutely pursue fugitives who commit tax crimes, as the recent arrest in Panama of a co-conspirator demonstrates.”

“Today’s sentence reflects our Office’s commitment to rooting out tax fraud,” U.S. Attorney Kenneth Allen Polite, Jr. said.

“As a tax preparer, Arias was entrusted with drafting and submitting filings in accordance with our tax laws. Instead, she violated those laws by spearheading a scheme to defraud our government out of over $10 million in tax revenue. In addition to paying full restitution and a significant fine, she will spend eight years in prison for her criminal conduct.”

“Identifying financial crimes that threaten the health of our national economy and exposing criminals who attempt to steal from law-abiding taxpayers will continue to be a major investigative priority for Homeland Security Investigations,” said Raymond R. Parmer, Jr., special agent in charge of HSI New Orleans.

“This case further illustrates the excellent working relationship between HSI and its federal, state and local partners to identify, investigate and refer these criminals for prosecution.”

The case was investigated by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, which oversees U.S. Homeland Security Investigations; IRS-Criminal Investigation; the U.S. Secret Service; the U.S. Postal Inspection Service; and the Social Security Administration, Office of the Inspector General, in partnership with the St. Tammany Parish and Jefferson Parish Sheriffs’ Departments. The case was prosecuted by Department of Justice, Tax Division Trial Attorney Hayden Brockett and Assistant United States Attorney David Haller.