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Two Louisiana Residents Charged With Conspiring to Harbor Aliens and Tax Crimes


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Friday, March 29, 2019

Two Louisiana Residents Charged With Conspiring to Harbor Aliens and Tax Crimes

A federal grand jury sitting in New Orleans, Louisiana, returned an indictment against two Louisiana residents, charging each with one count of conspiracy to harbor an alien, one count of conspiracy to defraud the United States, 48 counts of failure to withhold and pay over employment tax, and 12 counts of aiding and assisting in the preparation of a fraudulent tax return, announced Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Richard E. Zuckerman of the Justice Department’s Tax Division and U.S. Attorney Peter G. Strasser of the Eastern District of Louisiana.

As alleged in the indictment, Imad “Eddie” Hamdan and Ziad “Z” Mousa owned and operated over 30 locations of Brothers Food Mart. Hamdan and Mousa are alleged to have hired undocumented workers to work in their stores and paid them in cash. To further conceal these undocumented workers, Hamdan and Mousa allegedly filed false employment tax returns with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) that did not report the cash wages paid to the undocumented workers.

In addition, the indictment charges that Hamdan and Mousa paid the salaries of the managers of the Brothers Food Mart stores partially in cash. Allegedly, employment taxes were also not withheld or reported in connection with these cash wages. Finally, according to the indictment, Hamdan and Mousa issued and filed false Forms W-2 that underreported their wages. The indictment further alleges that Hamdan and Mousa aided in the filing of fraudulent tax returns for the managers of Brothers Food Mart stores.


    
   
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An indictment merely alleges that crimes have been committed.  The defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.

If convicted, Hamdan and Mousa each face a statutory maximum sentence of ten years in prison for the conspiracy to harbor aliens count, five years for the conspiracy to defraud the United States count, five years for each count of willful failure to withhold and pay over employment tax, and three years for each count of aiding and assisting in the preparation of a fraudulent tax return.  They also face substantial monetary penalties, supervised release, and restitution.

Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Zuckerman and U.S. Attorney Strasser commended Assistant United States Attorney Greg Kennedy and Trial Attorney Lauren Castaldi of the Tax Division, who are prosecuting this case. The case was investigated by special agents of IRS-Criminal Investigation and Homeland Security Investigations.






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Friday, March 29, 2019

Federal Court Bars Texas Return Preparer and Business from Preparing Tax Returns

A federal court in Dallas, Texas, permanently enjoined Jhane Broadway, individually and doing business as Jeprofessionalz (aka MaxTaxPros), from preparing federal income tax returns for others, the Justice Department announced today. 

The order, issued by District Judge David C. Godbey, also requires Broadway to mail or email notice of the injunction order to all customers for whom she prepared a federal tax return or claim for refund for tax years 2015 through 2017.

The government alleged that Broadway unlawfully prepared federal income tax returns that understate the tax liabilities of her customers by claiming false, improper, or inflated deductions, including fabricated Schedule A itemized deductions and Schedule C business losses.

The court’s order also prohibits Broadway from having an ownership interest in or working for any entity that prepares tax returns or represents clients before the Internal Revenue Service. Broadway consented to the order.

Return preparer fraud is one of the IRS’s Dirty Dozen Tax Scams and taxpayers seeking a return preparer should remain vigilant. The IRS has information on its website for choosing a return preparer and has launched a free directory of federal tax preparers. 

In the past decade, the Tax Division has obtained injunctions against hundreds of unscrupulous tax preparers. Information about these cases is available on the Justice Department’s website. An alphabetical listing of persons enjoined from preparing returns and promoting tax schemes can be found on this page. If you believe that one of the enjoined persons or businesses may be violating an injunction, please contact the Tax Division with details.




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Department of Justice
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Friday, March 29, 2019

Federal Court Shuts Down Texas Tax Return Preparer

A federal court in Beaumont, Texas, entered a permanent injunction against Sylvia Rodriguez, aka Sylvia Ornelas, barring her from preparing federal tax returns for others and owning or operating a tax preparation business, the Justice Department today announced.

The court found that Rodriguez engaged in fraudulent and deceptive conduct that substantially interfered with the administration of the tax laws.

In its complaint, the government alleged that Rodriguez prepared tax returns making false or fraudulent claims for the Earned Income Tax Credit, the fuel tax credit, and the American Opportunity Credit. In addition, Rodriguez allegedly reported fictitious business and inflated federal income tax withholdings on her customers’ returns. Also, according to the complaint, Rodriguez did not give some customers copies of their filed tax returns, or gave them returns that were different from those that were filed.

Return preparer fraud is one of the IRS’ Dirty Dozen Tax Scams and taxpayers seeking a return preparer should remain vigilant. The IRS has information on its website about selecting a return preparer and has launched a free directory of federal tax preparers.

In the past decade, the Tax Division has obtained injunctions against hundreds of unscrupulous tax preparers. Information about these cases is available on the Justice Department’s website. An alphabetical listing of persons enjoined from preparing returns and promoting tax schemes can be found on this page. If you believe that one of the enjoined persons or businesses may be violating an injunction, please contact the Tax Division with details.





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Department of Justice
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Friday, March 29, 2019

Texas Man Arrested and Charged with Bribery Conspiracy

A Weslaco, Texas man has been arrested on charges of conspiracy to commit bribery and other offenses in connection with a scheme to bribe a city commissioner in exchange for government contracts.

Assistant Attorney General Brian A. Benczkowski of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, U.S. Attorney Ryan K. Patrick for the Southern District of Texas, Special Agent in Charge Christopher Combs of the FBI San Antonio Field Office and Acting Special Agent in Charge Sarah Kull of the IRS Criminal Investigation (CI) Houston Field office, made the announcement.

An 18-count indictment filed in the Southern District of Texas and unsealed upon his arrest yesterday charges Richard Quintanilla, 51, with conspiring to bribe and bribing a Weslaco City Commissioner in exchange for official actions favorable to three engineering companies.  According to the indictment, from approximately August 2011 through December 2016, the companies supplied Quintanilla with approximately $85,950, which was funneled through a co-conspirator.  Quintanilla allegedly kept a portion of these payments and paid the remainder to a city commissioner.  In exchange for these bribe payments, the indictment alleges that the city commissioner used his official position to benefit the companies, including by voting to authorize multi-million dollar contracts for water treatment facilities in the City of Weslaco.  Quintanilla will appear before U.S. Magistrate Judge Peter E. Ormsby at 11:00 a.m. CT today.

An indictment contains only allegations.  A defendant is presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.

The FBI and IRS-CI conducted the investigation.  Trial Attorneys Peter M. Nothstein and Jessica C. Harvey of the Criminal Division’s Public Integrity Section and Assistant U.S. Attorney Roberto Lopez of the Southern District of Texas are prosecuting the case. 





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Friday, March 29, 2019

Fresenius Medical Care Agrees to Pay $231 Million in Criminal Penalties and Disgorgement to Resolve Foreign Corrupt Practices Act Charges

Fresenius Medical Care AG & Co. KGaA (Fresenius), a German-based provider of medical products and services, has agreed to pay approximately $231 million to resolve investigations by the Department of Justice and the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) into violations of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA) in connection with Fresenius’s participation in various corrupt schemes to obtain business in multiple foreign countries.

Assistant Attorney General Brian A. Benczkowski of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, U.S. Attorney Andrew E. Lelling of the District of Massachusetts, Assistant Director Robert Johnson of the FBI’s Criminal Investigative Division and Special Agent in Charge Joseph R. Bonavolonta of the FBI Boston Field Division made the announcement.

According to Fresenius’s admissions in connection with the resolution, between 2007 and 2016, Fresenius paid bribes to publicly employed health and/or government officials to obtain or retain business in Angola and Saudi Arabia.  In Angola and Saudi Arabia, as well as in Morocco, Spain, Turkey and countries in West Africa, Fresenius knowingly and willfully failed to implement reasonable internal accounting controls over financial transactions and failed to maintain books and records that accurately and fairly reflected the transactions, the company admitted.

“Fresenius doled out millions of dollars in bribes across the globe to gain a competitive advantage in the medical services industry, profiting to the tune of over $140 million,” said Assistant Attorney General Benczkowski.  “Today’s resolution, under which Fresenius has agreed to retain an independent compliance monitor for at least two years, reflects the Department’s firm commitment to both rooting out bribery and promoting the kind of effective corporate compliance programs that will prevent misconduct going forward.”

“Bribery, in all forms, is corrosive and illegal,” said U.S. Attorney Lelling.  “As today’s announcement makes clear, this Office will continue its long tradition of aggressively investigating companies and individuals who use bribes and kickbacks to gain an unfair and illicit business advantage, or who deliberately turn a blind eye to that conduct.”

“This case shows the continued commitment of the FBI and our partners to investigate bribery and corruption worldwide,” said FBI Assistant Director Robert Johnson.  “The FBI's dedicated International Corruption Squads across the United States will continue to combat foreign corruption that reaches our shores and send a strong message that, no matter how long it takes, we will not wane in our efforts to uphold the law.”





“This case shows the FBI will hold accountable those who treat corruption as the cost of doing business,” said FBI Special Agent in Charge Bonavolonta.  “Fresenius’s admissions are incredibly concerning because no company should break the law by paying-off international partners to obtain or retain business.  We will continue to work with our law enforcement partners to root out corrupt schemes and ensure they do not become common practice at the expense of other hard-working businesses.” 

In Angola, Fresenius offered or provided things of value to an Angolan military health officer who exercised authority over the Angolan state-owned military hospital in his role as an officer in the Medical Services Division of the Angolan Armed Forces and his family, as well as prominent Angolan government-employed nephrologists.  Specifically, Fresenius offered these individuals shares in a joint venture in Fresenius’s local subsidiary, specifically, 15 percent to the Angolan military health officer and 15 percent to a publicly employed doctor, storage contracts with a company owned by the sons of the Angolan military health officer, to provide warehousing space, however, no Fresenius products were ever stored at the warehouse,  and consultancy agreements with publicly employed doctors for which no services were ever performed, all for the purpose of securing an improper advantage and assisting Fresenius with obtaining and retaining business in Angola. 

In Saudi Arabia, Fresenius offered or provided things of value to Saudi Arabian health officials and publicly employed doctors who directed or were employed by a Saudi medical organization and a governmental charity.  Specifically, Fresenius engaged in a check-cashing scheme where employees were directed to cash checks that had been made payable in their names and return the cash to the general manager of Fresenius’s distributor and agent where he [the agent] then arranged to have the cash delivered to Saudi government doctors and others.  In addition, publicly employed doctors were awarded sham consulting and commission agreements for which no services were ever performed.  Fresenius also entered into fake collection commission agreements, made payments to a government charity, and gave gifts and made payments to publicly employed doctors for travel with no business or educational justification, the company admitted.

 In Morocco, Fresenius paid bribes through a sham commission to a Moroccan state official for the purpose of obtaining contracts to develop kidney dialysis centers at Moroccan state-owned military hospitals.  The sham commission would pay 10 percent of the value of the contract to the Moroccan state official and was disguised as a bonus payment to a Fresenius employee.  In Spain, Fresenius entered into fictitious consulting agreements with publicly employed doctors or professionals who could influence or provide information about public tenders.  For example, between 2008 and 2011, Fresenius paid a publicly employed doctor more than €81,000 without a consulting agreement or contract in place.  This publicly employed doctor was the head of nephrology at a Spanish state-owned hospital that ultimately awarded Fresenius a tender in 2011.  Further, Fresenius gave gifts or provided other benefits such as travel to medical conferences, and made donations to fund projects for the doctors, the company admitted.  In Turkey, Fresenius entered into joint ventures with publicly employed doctors in exchange for those doctors directing business from their public employer to Fresenius clinics in Turkey.  For example, in or around 2006, Fresenius entered into a joint venture with a publicly employed Turkish doctor, who received 35 percent of the joint venture shares (worth approximately $74,000 at the time) at the time it was formed.  In 2010, Fresenius purchased the doctor’s shares and never required the doctor to pay for his shares in the joint venture resulting in $356,000 profit to the doctor.  In West Africa, Fresenius knowingly paid bribes to publicly employed health officials and government-employed doctors in numerous countries, including Benin, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, the Ivory Coast, Niger, Gabon, Chad and Senegal.  For example, Fresenius employees met with representatives of a Gabon state-owned hospital and proposed a five-year agreement that would include the “prices plus the commission” that the officials would receive for each kit sold.  A Fresenius employee responsible for sales in West Africa reported that the agreement would provide for a €12 commission for each kit sold, which was intended as a “commission for the three persons who sign the contract with us.”  Fresenius paid these bribes through a combination of direct payments, payments through third parties and payments through a third-party distributorship, all to obtain and retain business in those countries, the company admitted. 

In total, Fresenius admitted to earning more than $140 million in profits from the corrupt schemes.

To resolve the case, Fresenius entered into a nonprosecution agreement (NPA) with the Department and agreed to pay a total criminal penalty of $84,715,273.  As part of the NPA, Fresenius also agreed to continue to cooperate with the Department’s investigation, enhance its compliance program, implement rigorous internal controls and retain an independent corporate compliance monitor for at least two years.

The Department reached this resolution based on a number of factors.  Notably, although Fresenius voluntarily self-disclosed the misconduct in April 2012, the company did not timely respond to certain requests by the Department and, at times, did not provide fulsome responses to requests for information.  In addition, misconduct occurred in 13 countries, yielded profits of more than $140 million and continued in certain countries until 2016.  Moreover, the company has not yet had the opportunity to test the effectiveness of its compliance enhancements.  In light of all the factors, the company did not qualify for a declination under the Corporate Enforcement Policy; however, the company was afforded a reduction of 40 percent below the low end of the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines fine range.  As part of the resolution, the company agreed to an independent compliance monitor for a term of two years, followed by an additional year of self-reporting to the Department.

Fresenius settled a related FCPA matter with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) today, and will pay $147 million in disgorgement and prejudgment interest to the SEC, which the Department credited in its resolution, bringing the total amount paid by Fresenius to over $231 million.

This case is being investigated by the FBI’s International Corruption Squad in New York and the FBI’s Boston Field Office.  Trial Attorneys Paul A. Hayden and Sonali D. Patel of the Criminal Division’s Fraud Section and Assistant U.S. Attorney Jordi de Llano of the District of Massachusetts are prosecuting the case.  

The Department appreciates the significant cooperation and assistance provided by the SEC in this matter.  

The Fraud Section is responsible for investigating and prosecuting all FCPA matters.  Additional information about the Justice Department’s Fraud Section FCPA enforcement efforts can be found atwww.justice.gov/criminal/fraud/fcpa.











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