A tax return preparer who filed fraudulent client tax returns was sentenced yesterday to almost two years in federal prison, announced Acting U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Texas Chad E. Meacham.
Carlos Hinojosa, 37, Mario Jose Sanchez, 48, and Magda Lopez-Sanchez, 51, pleaded guilty this summer to assisting in the preparation of false and fraudulent tax returns. Mr. Hinojosa was sentenced Wednesday by U.S. District Judge Ed Kinkeade to 22 months in federal prison. Mr. Sanchez and Ms. Lopez-Sanchez were each sentenced to three years’ probation. Judge Kinkeade ordered each of the defendants to pay more than $6 million in restitution, joint and severally, to the IRS.
From 2012 through 2016, Mr. Hinojosa, Mr. Sanchez, and Ms. Lopez-Sanchez worked as tax return preparers at Miguelitos Tax Service, a tax preparation service located in Carrolton, Texas.
According to plea papers, while at Miguelitos, the defendants prepared tax returns that included, among other false statements, false tuition expenses to make the clients appear eligible for education credits that they knew the clients were not eligible to receive. Mr. Hinojosa admitted that he generally included these false expenses on his clients’ tax returns without the clients’ knowledge.
To conceal the falsity of the returns, the defendants attempted to have clients sign forms justifying the expenses. Mr. Hinojosa admitted he did not explain the forms to clients and most had no idea what they were signing. He further admitted that he charged clients cash for preparing their returns – sometimes as much as $2,000 – without informing them that Miguelitos would also deduct a tax preparation fee from their tax refunds.
Mr. Hinojosa, Mr. Sanchez, and Ms. Lopez-Sanchez agreed their actions, along with the conduct of coconspirators at Miguelitos, resulted in a tax loss to the Internal Revenue Service of $7,306,191 for tax years 2010 through 2016.
IRS Criminal Investigation conducted the investigation. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Douglas Brasher and Andrew Wirmani (fmr.) prosecuted the case.