Tax Preparer in Fair Lawn Gets Prison for Helping Clients Claim Phony Deductions on Tax Returns
A woman from Fair Lawn, New Jersey will be going to prison after she pleaded guilty to tax fraud charges connected to her tax preparation company. The defendant in the case was 43-year-old Shirley Arias (who also goes by Shirley Zambrano). Arias owned Santos & Associates, a tax filing business located in Union City, NJ. Arias helped multiple clients file tax returns with false information, such as fake expenses and phony education credits. The fraudulent deductions listed on the federal tax documents were meant to help Arias’ clients get larger refunds on their tax returns. Now Arias has been sentenced to more than a year behind bars in federal prison.
Arias was investigated by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) after federal authorities noticed discrepancies in tax returns filed by several of Arias’ clients. Federal investigators closely scrutinized tax returns prepared by Arias and discovered evidence that her clients got more than $130,000 in tax refunds that they should not have received. The fraudulent tax documents were filed in 2012, 2013, and 2014.
Suspect Pleads Guilty in New Jersey Tax Fraud Case
Arias was initially placed under arrest and charged with a very serious federal crime: aiding and assisting others in the preparation of false tax returns. If Arias had elected to contest the criminal charges and went to trial in federal court, she could have been sentenced to as many as three years in federal prison and fined up to $250K. However, Arias avoided trial by reaching a plea deal with the U.S. Attorney’s Office.
When Arias later appeared in U.S. District Court in Newark for a formal sentencing hearing, her attorney asked the judge to impose a lenient sentence because, he said, Arias only committed the fraud to help her indigent clients. The federal judge was sympathetic to Arias’ situation, but he still sentenced her to 13 months in a federal penitentiary. The judge also ordered that Arias pay restitution of more than $130,000 to the federal government.
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Were you charged with a theft or fraud offense in Bergen County, New Jersey? Then it is imperative that you talk to an experienced criminal attorney as soon as possible. The Tormey Law Firm is a team of skilled lawyers with the experience and knowledge needed to help you fight your fraud charges. Contact us anytime to schedule a free initial consultation.