PITTSBURGH – A resident of Carpentersville, Illinois, pleaded guilty in federal court to charges of Aiding or Assisting in the Preparation or Filing of False Federal Income Tax Returns, United States Attorney Cindy K. Chung announced today.
Ephrem F. Lijalem, age 48, pleaded guilty to two counts before United States District Judge Marilyn J. Horan.
In connection with the guilty plea, the court was advised Lijalem operated Cititax Tax Refund stores in Pittsburgh, and he and his taxpayers defrauded IRS out of $7.2 million in illegal tax refunds generated by false Schedule C tax returns filed with the IRS. The government represented that tax return preparers at Cititax stores owned by Lijalem in Pittsburgh regularly falsified Schedule C attachments to personal income tax forms for customers with non-existent business, inflated income, and altered expenses in order to maximize the tax refunds for customers.
Judge Horan scheduled sentencing for May 31, 2022 The law provides for a total sentence of six years in prison, a fine of $500,000.00, or both. Under the Federal Sentencing Guidelines, the actual sentence imposed is based upon the seriousness of the offenses and the prior criminal history, if any, of the defendant.
Assistant United States Attorney Gregory C. Melucci is prosecuting this case on behalf of the government.
The Internal Revenue Service-Criminal Investigation conducted the investigation that led to the prosecution of Ephrem F. Lijalem.