Ernst Pierre, a Port St. Lucie, Fla., tax preparer, was sentenced today to 51 months in federal prison for wire fraud and aggravated identity theft, the Justice Department and Internal Revenue Service – Criminal Investigation (IRS-CI) announced. Pierre was charged with a scheme to file false federal income tax returns using stolen identity information. Pierre was also ordered to pay over $266,000 in restitution to the IRS.
According to the indictment and Pierre’s admissions as part of his guilty plea, from October 2009 through May 2011, Pierre filed false tax returns for clients of Tax Max, a Port St. Lucie tax return preparation business he owned and operated. Pierre obtained the names and Social Security numbers of relatives of clients for whom he had prepared and submitted federal income tax returns and then fraudulently used those names and Social Security numbers as “dependents” on other client tax returns and on his own tax return. Pierre used these dependents to fraudulently inflate tax refunds.
Kathryn Keneally, Assistant Attorney General for the Justice Department’s Tax Division, thanked special agents of IRS-CI, who investigated the case, and Tax Division Trial Attorneys Justin K. Gelfand and Thomas J. Krepp, who prosecuted the case.