Owner of New York Tax Preparation Business Pleads Guilty to Conspiring to File False Returns

WASHINGTON – A Queens, New York return preparer pleaded guilty today to conspiracy to defraud the United States by filing false returns, announced Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Richard E. Zuckerman of the Justice Department’s Tax Division. 

According to court documents and statements made in court, Richard Barker owned and operated a tax return preparation business under the names Tax Depot Inc. and KPS Kampant, Parkinson, Sinclair & Co. Inc. From 2011 through 2017, Barker conspired with other individuals to file returns for clients falsely reporting significant tax withholdings, in an effort to fraudulently inflate refunds from the IRS. Barker also admitted that he filed returns for himself, a coconspirator, and others, claiming more than $530,000 in fraudulent refunds from the IRS. In all, Barker caused a loss of at least $460,000 to the United States.

U.S. District Judge Eric R. Komitee will schedule sentencing a later date. At sentencing, Barker faces a maximum sentence of five years in prison. Barker also faces a period of supervised release, restitution, and monetary penalties.

Barker was previously charged in a January 2020 indictment alleging that Barker and two associates, Ricardo Andujar and Jose Andreu, conspired to defraud the United States. Andreu was also charged with filing false returns for himself, claiming approximately $182,000 in fraudulent refunds. Andreu’s case is pending. Andujar remains at large.

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

Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Zuckerman thanked special agents of IRS-Criminal Investigation and Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration, who conducted the investigation, and Trial Attorneys Ann Marie Cherry and Mark Kotila of the Tax Division, who are prosecuting the case.

Additional information about the Tax Division and its enforcement efforts may be found on the Division’s website.

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    Workers who are eligible for federal economic adjustment assistance (EAA) programs may face challenges using them. There are four EAA programs and one tax credit that focus on assistance to individual workers displaced by policy and economic changes. These include programs administered by the Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC) and Department of Labor (DOL), which deliver services such as job training and counseling through state and local grantees. Selected grantees in all three states GAO visited described common challenges faced by workers from enrollment in EAA programs through re-entry into the job market. Grantees Described Common Challenges Workers Face in Accessing and Using Economic Adjustment Assistance (EAA) Program Services Interviews with selected grantees and GAO's data analysis revealed two key challenges with administering EAA programs and serving workers: Delays in grant decisions. From fiscal years 2015 through 2018, DOL took longer than legally required to process between 9 percent (3 out of 35) and 20 percent (3 out of 15) of National Dislocated Worker Grant applications. Grantees may serve fewer workers and may interrupt services to workers while awaiting decisions. DOL does not collect information on reasons for these delays and is missing opportunities to help ensure that dislocated workers receive timely assistance. Lack of information sharing. ARC and DOL do not share information about their EAA grant programs with grantees or each other, including information about grant projects that serve similar populations in similar geographic areas. As a result, ARC and DOL may fail to maximize program impact and reach across the 13-state Appalachian region. Regional officials said that coordination would enable them to better identify specific services needed by dislocated workers and which program might best be equipped to provide them. DOL has established performance measures to track outcomes for its EAA programs, but has experienced challenges with assessing the impact of job training offered under these programs. GAO reviewed two relevant studies on the impact of DOL's EAA programs containing some evidence that intensive services, such as one-on-one consultations and case management, were effective in improving earnings outcomes for dislocated workers. However, the studies were unable to effectively assess the impact of job training offered to dislocated workers under the programs due to methodological challenges. By collecting more quality evidence, DOL could be better able to determine if its EAA programs are helping workers achieve their employment goals. Federal EAA programs help workers adjust to various economic disruptions, such as policy changes on trade, defense, or energy, and shifts in immigration, globalization, or automation that cause a prolonged cyclical downturn and can dislocate workers. GAO was asked to review these programs. This report examines (1) what challenges eligible workers face in using EAA programs, (2) what challenges grantees face in implementing EAA programs and serving workers, and (3) what is known about the outcomes and impacts of selected EAA programs. GAO analyzed DOL grant processing data from fiscal years 2015 through 2018, the most recent data available at the time of GAO's analysis; reviewed outcome data from program year 2018 and program impact evaluations; interviewed ARC, DOL, and Department of the Treasury officials, as well as state and local officials in three states that experienced different economic disruptions and use different EAA programs; and reviewed relevant federal laws, regulations, and guidance. GAO is making seven recommendations, including that DOL address grant processing delays, DOL and ARC share information, and DOL prioritize improving the quality of evidence on the impact of job training for dislocated workers. DOL and ARC agreed with GAO's recommendations. For more information, contact Cindy S. Brown Barnes at (202) 512-7215 or brownbarnesc@gao.gov.
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