Manhattan Tax Attorney And Florida CPA Plead Guilty To Multimillion-Dollar Tax Evasion Scheme
Joon H. Kim, the Acting United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, announced that HAROLD LEVINE, a Manhattan tax attorney, and RONALD KATZ, a Florida certified public accountant, pled guilty today in Manhattan federal court to tax crimes based upon their roles in a corrupt multi-year tax evasion scheme involving the failure to report to the Internal Revenue Service (“IRS”) millions of dollars in fee income stemming from tax shelter transactions. LEVINE and KATZ are scheduled to be sentenced by Judge Rakoff on October 11, 2017.
Acting U.S. Attorney Joon H. Kim said: “As tax professionals, both Harold Levine and Ronald Katz well knew their obligations to report their income to the IRS. As they have now admitted, they instead engaged in a corrupt scheme to evade taxes on millions of dollars of income. Now both defendants will be held to account for their crimes.”
According to the allegations in the Indictment to which LEVINE and KATZ pleaded guilty, and statements made during the plea proceedings and other court proceedings:
Between 2004 and 2012, LEVINE, a tax attorney and former head of the tax department at a major Manhattan Law Firm (the “Law Firm”), schemed with KATZ, a certified public accountant, to obstruct and impede the due administration of the Internal Revenue laws by evading income taxes on millions of dollars of fee income generated from tax shelter and related transactions that LEVINE worked on while a partner of the Law Firm. Specifically, LEVINE failed to report approximately $3 million in income to the IRS on his personal tax returns during the period 2005-2011. For his involvement in this scheme, KATZ received and failed to report to the IRS over $1.2 million in income on his personal tax returns.
As part of the scheme, for example, LEVINE caused tax shelter fees paid by a Law Firm client to be routed to a partnership entity he co-owned with KATZ and thereafter used those fees – totaling approximately $500,000 – to purchase a home in Levittown, on Long Island. LEVINE caused the home to be purchased as a residence for a Law Firm employee (the “Law Firm Employee”) with whom he had a close personal relationship. Although LEVINE allowed the Law Firm Employee to reside in the Levittown house for over five years without paying rent, LEVINE and KATZ prepared tax returns for the entity through which the home was purchased that claimed false deductions as a rental property.
In or about 2013, LEVINE was questioned by IRS agents concerning his involvement in certain tax shelter transactions and the fees received by LEVINE and KATZ from those transactions. During that questioning, LEVINE falsely represented that the Law Firm Employee paid him $1,000 per month in rent while living in the Levittown home. In addition, when the Law Firm Employee was contacted by the IRS and summoned to appear for testimony, LEVINE urged the employee to falsely represent to the IRS that she had paid $1,000 per month in rent to LEVINE.
LEVINE, 59, of New York, New York, and KATZ, 59, of Boca Raton, Florida, each pled guilty to one count of corruptly endeavoring to obstruct and impede the due administration of the Internal Revenue laws, which carries a maximum sentence of three years in prison, and one count of tax evasion, which carries a maximum sentence of five years in prison. The maximum potential sentences are prescribed by Congress and are provided here for informational purposes only, as any sentencing of the defendants will be determined by the judge.
Mr. Kim thanked the IRS for its assistance in this investigation and praised the outstanding investigative work of both IRS-CI and IRS Civil – Large Business & International