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Federal tax team in Texas puts financial criminals in prison

AUSTIN, Texas – The special agents and staff from IRS Criminal Investigation (CI) and the attorneys and staff at the U.S. Attorney’s Offices throughout Texas work hand-in-hand to put tax criminals and other white-collar criminals in prison for an average of 58 months in 2023, serving as a reminder to would-be offenders as this tax season kicks off.

 

CI’s Houston and Dallas field offices combine to investigate financial crimes across Texas, working with the assistant U.S. Attorneys from the Western, Northern, Southern and Eastern Districts of Texas to prosecute them. There were 144 CI cases sentenced in 2023, with criminals not just going to prison, but paying nearly $43 million in restitution and $2 million in fines.

 

Tax crimes are far from victimless, ranging from identity theft to tax fraud, even to narcotics cases. Money drives a multitude of crime that affects nearly every community.

 

“Around the birth of our nation, Ben Franklin explained in this world, nothing is certain except death and taxes,” said U.S. Attorney Alamdar S. Hamdani of the Southern District of Texas. “Taxes have always been priority in American lives, providing us with much needed economic security and stability. That’s why my office works closely with the IRS’s criminal investigators almost daily to ensure that we are holding criminals accountable for anything related to tax fraud or tax evasion. With tax season upon us, I want to remind citizens of another certainty besides death and taxes: if you engage in tax fraud we will find you and hold you to account.”

 

“To any individuals who are contemplating stealing money from the federal government by filing false tax returns, operating a fraudulent tax preparation business, or engaging in similar financial fraud: There is a network of federal law enforcement agents and prosecutors all across Texas who actively seek out such perpetrators and bring them to justice,” said U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Texas Leigha Simonton.

 

“Tax crimes are not just numbers on a spreadsheet. They are a betrayal of trust and compromise the financial system of this country,“ said U.S. Attorney Jaime Esparza for the Western District of Texas. “Just as with violent crime, we will continue to vigorously prosecute fraud and tax-related cases in order to protect the integrity of our institutions and the taxpaying citizens of our communities.”

 

“During this tax season and beyond, my office is committed to obtaining and achieving justice by prosecuting those who willfully choose to break the law and engage in tax crimes,” said Eastern District of Texas U.S. Attorney Damien M. Diggs.  “As law abiding taxpayers enter this tax season preparing to meet and comply with their filing obligations, they should know that the U.S. Attorney’s Offices across the state of Texas will aggressively use its resources to identify, investigate and prosecute those who prepare false returns, those who file false returns, and those who steal the identities of others to obtain fraudulent refunds.”

 

CI special agents are the law enforcement officers of the IRS, responsible for conducting financial crime investigations, including tax fraud, narcotics trafficking, money-laundering, public corruption, healthcare fraud, identity theft and more. They are the only federal law enforcement agents with investigative jurisdiction over violations of the Internal Revenue Code, obtaining a nearly 90% national federal conviction rate.

 

“Greed drives the bulk of federal crime, and our expertise is in conducting meticulous financial investigations that lead to the conviction and prison of individuals involved in fraudulent activities,” said Special Agent in Charge Ramsey E. Covington of CI’s Houston Field Office. “These sentences reflect the culmination of extensive investigations, often spanning months or even years, as our dedicated special agents meticulously untangle complex financial fraud and tax-related offenses.”

 

“Tax crimes are not victimless; they erode the foundation of our nation’s fiscal health,” said Special Agent in Charge Christopher J. Altemus, Jr., of CI’s Dallas Field Office. “Let it be crystal clear: engaging in fraud against the IRS is a perilous path. IRS special agents alongside the United States Attorney’s Offices, stand unwavering in our commitment to investigate and prosecute those who undermine the integrity of our tax system.”

Cheryl Christin Kissentaner, of Houston, was sentenced to 12 years in prison after being convicted by a jury on seven counts of aiding and assisting in preparing false tax returns. Assistant U.S. Attorneys from the Southern District of Texas prosecuted the case, where it was proven Kissentaner created fake businesses that operated at losses on tax returns she prepared for clients. She claimed fuel tax credits, even though only 0.2% of taxpayers qualify for those credits and even claimed state income tax deductions on tax returns for fellow Texans who reside in a state that doesn’t have a state income tax. Kissentaner charged clients significantly more than average tax preparation rates and required clients to refer others to keep the scheme going. Then, she used money from her scheme to purchase luxury vehicles like a Bentley and Maserati and pay for cosmetic surgery.

Keith Seguin, of San Antonio, Texas, was sentenced to more than 15 years in prison for wire fraud and tax fraud. Seguin was a civilian government employee authorized by the Air Force to solicit and accept orders for flight simulator technology and support, and to promote and manage related contracts.  Assistant U.S. Attorneys from the Western District of Texas prosecuted the case, which showed, as part of a scheme that spanned more than 10 years, Seguin conspired with others who paid him bribes of more than $2.3 million for contract work on Air Force projects.

 

Andrew Travis Johnson, of Lubbock, Texas, fraudulently applied for and obtained 27 Paycheck Protection loans, totaling almost $4 million. Assistant U.S. Attorneys from the Northern District of Texas prosecuted the case, where he was sentenced in August 2023 to 15 years in prison and ordered to pay $4.15 million in restitution and forfeit numerous assets, including multiple luxury cars. He pleaded guilty to three counts of bank fraud, one count of engaging in monetary transactions in property derived from unlawful activity, and one count of aggravated identity theft. He admitted to applying for loans on behalf of three entities: an actual business that provided contract speech and occupational therapy services, an actual non-profit that organized community fundraisers for individuals with intellectual limitations, and a fictious entity.

 

Adam P. Runsdorf, 58, of Boca Raton, Florida, was sentenced in July 2023 to six years in federal prison and ordered to forfeit $5 million and a McLaren sportscar for his crimes of conspiracy, trafficking in counterfeit drugs, and money laundering conspiracy. As part of an Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Forces (OCDETF) operation, CI special agents focused on the financial crimes committed, which were then prosecuted by assistant U.S. Attorneys from the Eastern District of Texas. Runsdorf was a Florida-based pharmaceutical president who conspired with drug traffickers in Houston, Texas, to distribute misbranded and counterfeit cough syrup.  Runsdorf’s company, Woodfield Pharmaceutical LLC, pleaded guilty to the same charges and was ordered to forfeit $1 million and fined $50,000.

All 11 defendants charged in the indictment, including Runsdorf, pleaded guilty.

 

CI is the criminal investigative arm of the IRS, responsible for conducting financial crime investigations, including tax fraud, narcotics trafficking, money-laundering, public corruption, healthcare fraud, identity theft and more. IRS-CI special agents are the only federal law enforcement agents with investigative jurisdiction over violations of the Internal Revenue Code. The agency’s Houston Field Office stretches across Texas with nine offices between Houston and El Paso, while the Dallas Field Office includes North and East Texas, and the entire states of Oklahoma and Arkansas.

 

 

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