Fair Lawn Woman Gets Prison for Tax Fraud
Fair Lawn Tax Preparer Helped Clients Claim Phony Deductions on Federal Tax Returns
A Fair Lawn woman who committed tax fraud in order to help her clients get larger refunds on their tax returns was recently sentenced to more than a year behind bars in a federal penitentiary. The defendant, 43-year-old Shirley Arias (who also goes by the name Shirley Zambrano), was the owner of Santos & Associates, a tax preparing business in Union City, NJ. While assisting clients for the tax preparation company, Arias prepared fake returns by fabricating expenses and education credits and listing phony deductions on the official documents submitted to the federal government.
When officials with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) became aware of Arias’ involvement in several fraudulent returns, federal investigators took a close look at Arias. The subsequent investigation eventually uncovered evidence that Arias got her clients more than $130,000 in tax refunds that they should not have received. Those returns were filed between 2012 and 2014.
Plea Deal in New Jersey Tax Fraud Case
Arias was charged with aiding and assisting others in the preparation of false tax returns. If Arias had gone to trial on the tax fraud charges and been convicted, she faced up to three years in federal prison and a fine of up to $250,000. However, Arias avoided trial in the case by reaching a plea deal with the U.S. Attorney’s Office. Arias and federal prosecutors agreed on the terms of the plea agreement in April, but Arias was not sentenced until now.
At Arias’ sentencing hearing in U.S. District Court in Newark, her attorney noted that she did not benefit financially from her fraudulent behavior – beyond a small fee for preparing the tax returns. Arias’ attorney said that she was simply trying to do a good deed for clients who were poor and who needed tax refunds. The federal judge was sympathetic to Arias’ situation and decided to sentence her to a term of incarceration of 13 months and a one-year term of supervised release after she completes her prison sentence. Additionally, the judge ordered Arias to pay $130,279 in restitution to the government.
Contact an Experienced Bergen County Fraud Crime Attorney Today
If you’ve been charged with a theft or fraud offense in Bergen County, New Jersey, you need a qualified criminal defense lawyer on your side. The Tormey Law Firm is a legal team with skilled attorneys who understand the nuances of the NJ criminal justice system and who know how to help you fight criminal charges for tax fraud, theft by deception, and other crimes of moral turpitude. Contact us today to schedule a free consultation about your case.