Tulare tax preparers plead guilty in fraud case
FRESNO — Tulare residents Roberto Olivares, 35, and his cousin Rojelio Martin, 31, pleaded guilty Monday to 10 counts of wire fraud in connection with a scheme that defrauded taxpayers of tax refunds, United States Attorney Benjamin B. Wagner announced Tuesday.
According to their plea agreements, Olivares and Martin prepared personal tax returns for clients of Success Income Tax Services, a Tulare-based business they operated. Between January and May of 2008, Martin, a licensed tax preparer, took personal information from clients to use in preparing their tax returns. After preparing correct tax returns showing a refund due to the client, Olivares and Martin would change the returns to reflect a different and lower refund amount than the clients were entitled to receive. They gave copies of the false tax returns to the clients claiming that they were copies of what was filed with the Internal Revenue Service.
According to court documents, Olivares and Martin filed the correct tax returns with the IRS. In the part of the “accurate” return that asked where the refund was to be distributed and in what amounts, the defendants said the refund be divided between the client and the defendants. The client received the amount per the false return given to them, and the amount in excess of what the client received went into the defendants’ bank account. As a result of the fraud, approximately 75 taxpayers lost approximately $50,000.
The case is the product of an investigation by IRS Criminal Investigation. Assistant United States Attorney Christopher Baker is prosecuting the case.
Olivares and Martin are scheduled to be sentenced on May 20 before U.S. District Judge Lawrence J. O’Neill. The maximum statutory penalty they face on each count is 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.