On November 20, 2017, Kiburi Tucker, 42, former political fundraiser and executive director of Newark-based child-care center The Center, pleaded guilty in Newark federal court to one count of wire fraud and one count of tax evasion, offenses for which Tucker faces maximum sentences of 20 and five years, respectively. The investigation, which was a collaborative effort between the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), and Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), revealed that Tucker embezzled from and defrauded The Center, underreported income to the IRS, and filed false federal income tax returns.
“I’m tremendously embarrassed for doing what I did, which hurt my family, my friends, and my community,” Tucker stated in court. “They depended on me, and they supported me. And I let them down. I will try to rectify what I have done to the best of my ability,” he continued. “I accept the consequences, and I take full responsibility for my actions.”
Unfortunately for Tucker, those consequences could be extremely serious: for the conviction of wire fraud, a maximum 20-year sentence in addition to a fine of up to $250,000; for the tax evasion conviction, another $250,000 fine with a maximum five-year sentence.
The charges arose from financial schemes initiated by Tucker during January of 2012. From then through December of 2015, Tucker, by his own admission, unlawfully used an ATM card intended for The Center Inc., a child-care center where Tucker served as executive director. During this period, Tucker defrauded The Center out of approximately $332,116. These funds, which were intended for the benefit of The Center, were instead used for an array of personal expenses, including, according to a Department of Justice (DOJ) press release, “gambling, travel, and furnishing [Tucker’s] home.”
Outside of financial activities linked to The Center, which were what gave rise to the wire fraud charge, Tucker also undertook a series of unlawful actions involving a political firm, leading to the tax evasion charge. The DOJ press release indicates that Tucker “intentionally underreported the income that he received for tax year 2015 from his partnership in Elite Strategies, a political fundraising and consulting company, by filing false federal personal income tax returns.” By underreporting his income by approximately $177,040, Tucker caused approximately $56,509 in tax losses.
Tax evasion, though widely attempted, is an extremely serious offense. A conviction or guilty plea will expose the defendant to crushing fines and years of prison time. Even in situations where a taxpayer has made a sincere error in his or her financial recordkeeping and has not intentionally attempted to violate the Tax Code, expensive civil penalties can still be imposed. In some cases, a taxpayer may face civil and criminal penalties.
If you are concerned about unfiled tax returns, potential inaccuracies on your previous tax returns, unpaid taxes, an upcoming IRS tax audit, California-specific issues with state taxes, business and corporate taxes, or other tax issues affecting individuals, S corporations, C corporations, limited liability companies (LLCs), partnerships, sole proprietorships, or non-profit organizations, meticulous financial guidance from an experienced tax attorney is essential. Allow the tax and accounting professionals at the Tax Law Office of David W. Klasing to help you comply with the law while ensuring that you are using the Tax Code strategically. For a reduced-rate consultation concerning tax preparation, tax defense, audit representation, or related tax matters, contact us online, or call the Tax Law Office of David W. Klasing at (800) 681-1295 today.
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