MN (STL.News) The U.S. Attorney’s Office and the Internal Revenue Service’s Criminal Investigation Division reminds all Minnesotans that this year’s deadline for filing federal income tax returns is Wednesday, July 15. Due to COVID-19, the original filing deadline and tax payment due date was postponed from April 15 to July 15. For people facing hardships, including those affected by COVID-19, who cannot pay in full, the IRS has several options available on IRS.gov/payments. IRS Criminal Investigation also encourages Minnesotans to be cautious of scam artists who are looking for ways to steal money and personal information. Stay alert! The IRS will not contact you by phone, email, or social media to ask for personal information.
“Although we are living through unprecedented times, Americans must still meet their tax obligations by filing returns accurately and timely,” stated U.S. Attorney Erica MacDonald. “Minnesotans must also be aware of wrongdoers who are looking for ways to exploit individuals, steal money, and cheat the system. Those individuals will be held accountable.”
“As the tax filing deadline quickly approaches, I am asking all citizens to file correct and accurate tax returns and to pay their share of taxes,” states Kathy A. Enstrom, Special Agent in Charge of the IRS Criminal Investigation Division who oversees the state of Minnesota. “We all pay when others cheat the government. IRS Criminal Investigation, together with the U.S. Attorney’s Office, works year-round to make certain that those who willfully defy the tax laws will be investigated and criminally prosecuted. Taxpayers are encouraged to visit the IRS.gov website for tips on filing a tax return accurately and searching for a reputable return preparer.”
As the tax filing season winds down next week, the U.S. Attorney’s Office and IRS Criminal Investigation encourage taxpayers to think before filing a false or fraudulent tax return and to be wary of any schemes that falsify income or deductions. The following court actions have occurred in the District of Minnesota over the last nine months.
In October 2019, LESSIE BEATRICE LINDSEY was sentenced to a year and a day in federal prison for filing a false claim and ordered to pay $995,966 in restitution to the IRS. From 2013 to 2016, LINDSEY submitted approximately 192 false and fraudulent income tax returns acting as a knowledgeable tax preparer and illegally demanding a share of the tax refunds from her clients. Over $200,000 of her false tax refunds were designed to benefit herself, her boyfriend, or her relatives. This case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Matthew S. Ebert.
In December 2019, RICHARD PETER HENTGES was sentenced on charges of aiding and assisting in the filing of a false tax return and ordered to pay $55,634 in restitution to the IRS. While employed as the Chief Financial Officer of a business located in Chaska, Minnesota, HENTGES was responsible for all aspects of operations and finances, including filing and paying payroll taxes. During 2013 and 2014, HENTGES failed to pay over the payroll taxes for some of the employees resulting in a $72,672.01 tax loss to the United States. This case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Amber M. Brennan.
In January 2020, WORAPHAK VANG was sentenced to 18 months in prison for tax evasion and was ordered to pay $1,351,985.05 in restitution to the IRS. While operating her temporary staffing agency that provided temporary workers to companies in the manufacturing field in and around Saint Paul, VANG committed payroll and income tax fraud totaling $1,351,985.05 over a period of four years. VANG failed to collect and pay over payroll taxes from her employees and under-reported her own income on her personal tax returns. This case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Robert M. Lewis.
In January 2020, RANDAL SCOT BRINKMAN was sentenced to 46 months in prison and was ordered to pay $945,316 in restitution to the IRS. On July 25, 2019, following a four-day jury trial, BRINKMAN was found guilty on six counts of tax evasion. From 1999 through 2018, BRINKMAN, owner of a Roseville construction company, took steps to hide his income and actively evade the assessment of taxes, including using sham businesses, closing his personal bank accounts, using money orders and cash to pay for daily expenses, and creating a fake religious organization in order to hide his income and assets. This case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Joseph H. Thompson and Alexander D. Chiquione.
In February 2020 and March 2020, MUHUMED ALI and FAYSAL SAYID each pleaded guilty to one count of income tax evasion. SAYID and ALI were co-owners of a company that provided adult day care services to individuals enrolled in the Minnesota Medicaid program. Between 2012 and 2014, SAYID and ALI removed approximately $1.3 million from the company’s operating accounts and used those funds to pay for personal, non-business expenses, such as clothing, rent for personal residences, vehicles, funds transfers to other parties, and international wire transfers. SAYID and ALI willfully attempted to evade and defeat income taxes due and owing on that money for tax years 2012, 2013, and 2014. SAYID and ALI are awaiting sentencing. This case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Matthew S. Ebert.
In May 2020, RUSLAN FURMAN was sentenced to two years in prison for aggravated identity theft and ordered to pay $298,644 in restitution to the IRS. From 2013 through 2016, FURMAN, a salesperson at a vehicle dealership, conspired with VLADIMIR CHEVTAYEV, THOMAS POPLAR, and others to defraud financial institutions out of money through an elaborate auto-financing scheme. FURMAN and others committed the fraud by applying for financing using deceased buyer’s names, stolen identities, or by paying people for the use of their information to buy luxury vehicles. After receiving the loan proceeds, the conspirators laundered the funds through an auto financing company to make the transactions appear legitimate. Co-conspirators CHEVTAYEV and POPLAR have pleaded guilty and are awaiting sentencing. This case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Julie E. Allyn.