Friday, September 3, 2021

Tax Preparer Pleads Guilty To Stealing From His Clients And Filing False Tax Returns

 Audrey Strauss, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, announced today that CARLOS DE LA TORRE pled guilty before United States District Judge Naomi Reice Buchwald to one count of mail fraud and two counts of filing false income tax returns in connection with a years-long scheme to steal from the clients of his tax preparation business and defraud the Internal Revenue Service (“IRS”) and New York State Department of Taxation and Finance (“NYSDTF”). 

U.S. Attorney Audrey Strauss said: “As he admitted today, Carlos De La Torre defrauded his tax preparation clients by converting to his own use money the clients had been told they owed the IRS and New York State.  As he further admitted, De La Torre defrauded the IRS and the State by seeking refunds for overpayments of his taxes that were actually the funds he stole from his clients, and by failing to report those stolen funds as income.  Now Carlos De La Torre awaits sentencing for his crimes.”  

According to the allegations in the Complaint, Information, and statements made in court:

DE LA TORRE is a tax preparer and the sole proprietor of a bookkeeping and tax preparation business in New York, New York.  From at least in or about 2014, through at least in or about 2020, DE LA TORRE represented certain small businesses based in New York City and their owners (the “Victims”) in connection with the preparation and filing of their personal and business federal and state tax returns.  During that time period, DE LA TORRE told the Victims how much they allegedly owed in state and federal personal and business taxes, and the Victims gave DE LA TORRE checks in those amounts.

Instead of submitting the Victims’ checks as payments to be applied toward the Victims’ federal and state tax liabilities, DE LA TORRE fraudulently altered the checks and mailed them to the IRS and the NYSDTF as estimated tax payments to be credited against his own personal tax liabilities.  Those payments greatly exceeded DE LA TORRE’s own tax liabilities each year.  At the end of each tax period, DE LA TORRE fraudulently sought and received refunds from the IRS and the NYSDTF for the total amount of the altered checks he submitted to each agency, less any amount DE LA TORRE actually owed in taxes.  Refunds from the IRS and the NYSDTF were wired by the U.S. Treasury and New York State, respectively, directly into DE LA TORRE’s personal bank account.  In total, DE LA TORRE stole more than $466,000 from the Victims through this scheme. 

DE LA TORRE also filed false tax returns with the IRS and NYSDTF in connection with this scheme, by failing to report on his tax returns the money he stole from the Victims.  Had DE LA TORRE reported that income, as he was required to do, his total tax liability each year would have been much greater than it was, and he would not have been entitled to the refunds that he claimed.  As a result, DE LA TORRE defrauded the IRS and NYSDTF of a total of at least $91,663 (including interest). 

DE LA TORRE, 79, of Little Neck, New York, pled guilty to one count of mail fraud, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 1341, which carries a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison, and to two counts of subscribing to false individual tax returns, in violation of Title 26, United States Code, Section 7206(1), each of which carries a maximum sentence of three years in prison.  The maximum potential sentences in this case are prescribed by Congress and are provided here for informational purposes only, as any sentencing of the defendant would be determined by the judge.  DE LA TORRE is scheduled to be sentenced by Judge Buchwald on December 21, 2021.

Ms. Strauss praised the outstanding investigative work of IRS Criminal Investigation and NYSDTF. 

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