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Ohio Business Owner Sentenced to 30 Months for Willfully Filing False Tax Returns

Kent Car Dealership Owner Sentenced to 30 Months for Tax Fraud

Davood Haghighi, 59, of Kent, Ohio was sentenced to prison earlier this month after pleading guilty to multiple tax and financial crimes, including one count of conspiracy to engage in money laundering (18 U.S. Code § 1956) and two counts of willfully making or subscribing a false return (26 U.S. Code § 7206(1)). Both are federal felony offenses, which are frequently subject to longer sentences than similar state crimes. Like many federal tax offenders, Haghighi received a stiff prison sentence and costly criminal fines – plus court orders to repay the IRS more than half a million dollars in restitution. Like many profiled in our tax law blog, the outcome of this case, in the words of William Cheung, IRS Criminal Investigation, Acting Special Agent in Charge for the Cincinnati Field Office, “sends a clear message: pay your taxes or pay the price.” If you’ve filed tax returns or other documents containing inaccurate information, you should contact the LA tax defense attorneys at the Tax Law Office of David W. Klasing for further guidance immediately.

Car Dealership Owner Fined Over $600K, Sentenced to 30 Months in Tax Fraud Case

The Department of Justice (DOJ), whose Tax Division prosecutes federal criminal tax cases, regularly publishes press releases concerning tax convictions and sentences. The DOJ’s first press release concerning Haghighi was issued September 2017, at which point the defendant had only been indicted: a pre-trial process, early in the course of a criminal case, by which the defendant is formally accused of an offense. Being indicted on tax charges is not the same as being found guilty of a crime; but it does set the stage for the rest of the case, and should, therefore, be taken extremely seriously. For more information on this subject, see our article discussing what the IRS includes in an indictment for a tax case.

Haghighi later pleaded guilty, admitting to conspiring to launder money and willfully filing false tax returns for 2011 and 2012. Haghighi, formerly the owner of an auto dealership, reported income of $202,213 and $171,236 for those years respectively, despite earning substantially more. In a search of Haghighi’s home, investigators discovered more than $650,000, explaining that Haghighi derived income not only from his car dealership but also payments from drug traffickers.

In an effort to conceal these large transactions – which, in accordance with federal law, should have been reported to the IRS using Form 8300 (Report of Cash Payments Over $10,000 Received in a Trade or Business), which must generally be filed whenever a business receives a single payment greater than $10,000 – Haghighi transferred funds between various accounts held with Chase Bank. See our article on structuring laws to learn more about the requirements for reporting large transactions.

Appearing in court in June 2019, Haghighi was fined $25,000 and sentenced to 30 months in prison. He was also ordered to pay IRS restitution totaling $615,712, bringing the total cost above $640,000.

“Mr. Haghighi is paying the price,” Cheung told reporters, “not only with the loss of his freedom but the forfeiture of his ill-gotten gains.”

Federal Tax Evasion Defense Attorneys in Orange County, CA

The crime of willfully making or subscribing a false return, which is prohibited by 26 U.S. Code § 7206(1), occurs when a taxpayer knowingly files a return that he or she “does not believe to be true and correct as to every material,” or significant, “matter.” If the taxpayer, for the purpose of avoiding the payment of taxes, deliberately reports earning significantly less than he or she actually does, he or she is at high risk for being audited, investigated, and criminally charged with tax fraud. Owners of cash-based businesses (such as used car dealerships) are particularly vulnerable as the IRS regards large cash transactions as a major red flag or risk factor for tax evasion.

If you are concerned about a car dealership tax audit, an audit of your cash-based business, another type of tax audit, or a criminal tax investigation, you need to take immediate action to begin protecting yourself and your business. Do not return to your original tax preparer or accountant, as they are likely to be forced to be a witness against you which could expose you to more danger, until you have discussed your situation with a competent and experienced IRS tax attorney. To schedule a reduced-rate, completely confidential legal consultation with our award-winning tax evasion lawyers in Orange County, contact the Law Office of David W. Klasing online, or call (800) 681-1295.

Also, we’ve expanded our offices! In addition to our offices in Irvine and Los Angeles, the Tax Law Offices of David W. Klasing now have offices San BernardinoSanta BarbaraPanorama CityOxnardSan DiegoBakersfieldSan Jose, San FranciscoOakland and Sacramento.

Note: If you have concerns about the privacy of our initial or subsequent communication and are unable to easily travel to our Irvine / Orange County Main Office, consider scheduling a GoToMeeting to safely and securely establish an initial or maintain an existing attorney client relationship.  With end-to-end encryption, strong passwords and top-rated reliability, no one is messing with your meeting. To schedule a reduced rate initial consultation via GoToMeeting follow this link.   Call our office and request a GoToMeeting if you are an existing client. We are generally happy to travel to any of our appointment only satellite offices for a subsequent meeting in appropriate circumstances once a relationship is established via a signed engagement letter and the payment of an initial retainer or where enough retainer is available where a current client to cover the reasonable travel time and time required for the meeting.

Will it cost me more to hire the Tax Law Offices of David W. Klasing, who’s main office and the vast majority of the firm’s staff is located in Irvine California, but an appointment only Satellite office is close to my location, as opposed to a local company?  Absolutely not!  See our policies that address this issue here:

Read more about Tax Audits in our FAQ library:

Your Rights During an IRS Audit

What Can I Do to Prepare for an Audit?

Can I Find Out Why the IRS Chose to Audit Me?

How Does the IRS Decide Who to Audit?

Are All IRS Audits the Same?

How to Survive an Audit after Cheating on Your Tax Return

Most Common Audit Techniques

What is an Eggshell Audit?

What is a Reverse Eggshell Audit?

Best Possible Outcomes of an Eggshell Audit

Effective Tax Defense Counsel Goals in an Egg Shell Audit

Why is a Reverse Egg Shell Audit Dangerous to a Taxpayer?

How Should Tax Audits be Handled by a Criminal Tax Counsel?

Warning Signs of a Criminal Referral from an IRS Audit

Why Should You Hire David W. Klasing to Represent You in an Audit?