A taxpayer from Washington State was sentenced to two and a half years in a federal prison late last week. The sentence was the result of criminal tax charges for filing a fraudulent federal tax return for the 2011 tax year. The defendant allegedly fled the country and was sentenced in absentia, meaning that he was not able to make arguments for a lesser sentence. This case evidences the need to contact an experienced criminal tax defense attorney at the first sign of trouble, as running away from the problem will only compound your potential legal issues.
According to a press release by the Department of Justice, Jose Echeveria, 46, of Chelan Falls, Washington, was convicted of a single count of filing a fraudulent U.S. federal income tax return. According to prosecutors, Echeverria owned and operated a produce sales business and allegedly filed fraudulent individual income tax returns for tax years 2009 through 2012. Prosecutors alleged that the returns underreported income he received by over $560,000, resulting in a tax loss of over $180,000. Authorities said that during the period that Echeveria was filing false returns, he wired hundreds of thousands of dollars to Mexico where he purchased land and other luxury items. He is believed to be hiding out in Mexico and is considered a fugitive after fleeing following his guilty plea earlier this year. Echeveria’s recommended sentence was likely less than two and a half years when it was originally negotiated with the Department of Justice, but the action of leaving the country to avoid incarceration likely resulted in an increased sentence.
In addition to the federal prison sentence handed down last week, Echeveria was sentenced to serve one year of supervised release and to pay over approximately $183,000 in restitution to the IRS.
Although the thought of dealing with an accusation like filing a fraudulent tax return is a scary one, fleeing is likely one of the worst courses of action a taxpayer under investigation or involved in criminal litigation can take. If the case has not been adjudicated on the merits, a fleeing defendant may lose his or her opportunity to argue their case. If guilt has already been established, a convicted defendant may lose their ability to ask the court for leniency.
An experienced Criminal Tax Defense Attorney has the tax experience and legal education needed to provide a client with the requisite technical tax guidance and ensure that the taxpayer’s constitutional rights are respected during the investigatory process, litigation and any necessary plea bargaining. Taxpayers that attempt to fight the IRS or Department of Justice alone often find themselves making costly mistakes that an experienced tax lawyer could have advised them against.
The tax and accounting professionals at the Tax Law Offices of David W. Klasing have represented taxpayers from all walks of life in a myriad of tax situations, including assisting those that have been accused of filing fraudulent tax returns. Our team of zealous advocates will work with you to develop a strategy that is tailored to your particular facts and circumstances. Don’t let the threat of civil penalties or criminal prosecution keep you up at night. Contact the Tax Law Offices of David W. Klasing today for a consultation.
Warning signs an audit has gone criminal
What is an eggshell tax audit?
What is an effective tax defense in an IRS eggshell tax audit?
So you cheated on your taxes and you are under a tax audit
Why should I hire a tax attorney to represent me in a tax audit?
Criminal Tax Evasion