Defendant Owned Storefront in the Bayview/Hunter’s Point Neighborhood and Advertised Refunds for the Unemployed
SAN FRANCISCO – A federal jury convicted Josiah Larkin of conspiracy to file false claims and presenting false claims to the IRS, announced United States Attorney Brian J. Stretch and Internal Revenue Service, Criminal Investigation, Special Agent in Charge Michael T. Batdorf. The guilty verdicts, reached yesterday, followed a six-day jury trial before the Honorable Susan Illston, U.S. District Court Judge.
Evidence at trial showed that Larkin, 40, of San Francisco, set up a storefront on Third Street in the Bayview/Hunter’s Point neighborhood of San Francisco in December of 2012. Although not authorized to do so, he identified the shop as a Colbert Ball Tax franchise. Larkin advertised “Get Up to $600- Even if Unemployed, On SSA or SSI.” Larkin prepared false tax returns for clients, reporting that they had no income and that they paid $4,000 in qualified education expenses to attend college. This combination of zero income and $4,000 in qualified education expenses resulted in a $1,000 tax refund based on the American Opportunity Tax Credit (“AOTC”). Larkin took approximately half of the fraudulently-obtained tax refunds and gave the remaining half to his clients. Larkin was indicted on January 6, 2015, and charged with one count of conspiracy to file false federal income tax returns as well as multiple counts of filing false claims and aiding and abetting filing false claims, all in violation of 18 U.S.C. §§ 286 and 287. The jury found Larkin guilty of the conspiracy charge and five counts of filing false claims.
“The fraudulent preparation of tax returns is an insidious drain on the public fisc,” said U.S. Attorney Brian J. Stretch. “This office will continue to devote resources to prosecute those who seek to profit by submitting fraudulently prepared tax returns to the IRS.”
“Josiah Larkin’s verdict today marks another example of a tax return preparer who preyed on the vulnerable,” said Michael T. Batdorf, Special Agent in Charge IRS Criminal Investigation. “He used personal identifying information to make a quick buck. Educating the public about these schemes is a continuing focus for IRS-CI. Tax preparers should take note that if they attempt to defraud the IRS they will be caught and held accountable.”
Defendant’s sentencing hearing is scheduled for January 13, 2017, before Judge Illston. The maximum statutory penalty for conspiracy to file false claims is ten years’ imprisonment and a fine of $250,000. The maximum statutory penalty for presenting false claims to an agency of the United States is five years’ imprisonment and a fine of $250,000, plus restitution if appropriate. However, any sentence will be imposed by the court only after consideration of the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and the federal statute governing the imposition of a sentence, 18 U.S.C. § 3553.
Assistant U.S. Attorneys Cynthia Stier and Laurie Gray prosecuted the case. The prosecution is the result of an investigation by the Internal Revenue Service.