Statewide Crackdown Nets Multiple Arrests and Jail Time for Bad Tax Preparers

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Statewide Crackdown Nets Multiple Arrests and Jail Time for Bad Tax Preparers

State tax investigators conducted undercover operations and analyzed refund audits to uncover illegal filings


The New York State Department of Taxation and Finance today announced the results of a recent statewide crackdown on bad tax preparers.


Three preparers were charged with filing fraudulent returns. A fourth preparer was sentenced to jail time for preparing returns on behalf of others without registering with the Tax Department. Another preparer pleaded guilty to failing to file his own tax returns and pay the proper amount owed to New York State.


“Our investigators and fraud-prevention teams aggressively pursue unethical tax preparers who take advantage of their clients or otherwise flout the law for personal gain,” said Acting Commissioner of the New York State Department of Taxation and Finance Amanda Hiller. “We will continue to work with all levels of law enforcement to bring these preparers to justice.”


Erie County CPA admits to crime relating to his failure to file his own tax returns for three consecutive years


James Hughes, 60, of Williamsville, NY, a CPA, on February 7, 2023, was convicted of attempted failure to file his own personal tax returns for tax years 2016, 2017, and 2018. He was arrested for not filing those returns. Hughes made full restitution to New York State.


Erie County District Attorney John J. Flynn said, “Falsifying or failing to submit your personal income tax returns is a crime. Not only will you be prosecuted, but you will be required to pay restitution. Thank you to the New York State Department of Taxation and Finance for working alongside my office on this investigation.”


Tax preparer violates probation, sentenced to eight months in jail


Raul Martinez, owner of Apollo Tax located at 170 Dyckman St., New York, NY, was recently sentenced to eight months in jail for violating his probation related to previous tax crimes.


In November 2021, Martinez was convicted of multiple felonies including criminal tax fraud, grand larceny, and filing fictious returns. As part of his plea agreement, he was barred from preparing returns for anyone other than himself, which he ultimately violated on numerous occasions in subsequent years.


Three downstate preparers arrested, accused of filing bogus returns


On January 26, 2023, Sergey Yassiyevich, age 65, was arrested at his tax preparation business located at 421 Brighton Beach Ave., Brooklyn. Yassiyevich, acting as a ghost tax return preparer, is alleged to have prepared multiple tax returns that contained false information during an undercover operation that occurred in May of 2022.


A ghost tax return preparer is someone who does not sign tax returns they prepare as required. Ghost preparers often claim false dependents or claim fake or inflated deductions to boost the size of a refund. Some ghost preparers may even direct those refunds into their own bank account, and not the taxpayer's.


Yassiyevich is charged with offering a false instrument for filing as well as criminal tax fraud, both felonies.


Another downstate tax preparer, Jesus Abinader, 41, was arrested on February 7, 2023. He’s charged with grand larceny, scheme to defraud, and offering a false instrument for filing.


Tax Department investigators have accused Abinader of filing fraudulent tax returns for clients with inflated expenses out of his tax preparation business, AB Multiservices and Income Tax, located at 182 Sherman Ave., New York, NY.


Another preparer, Joseph Clay, 49, of Suffern, NY was arrested on January 30, 2023. He’s accused of filing returns with bogus Individual Retirement Account (IRA) deductions at Prime Tax & Professional Services, LLC, located at 73 Market St., Ste. 376, Yonkers, NY.


During an undercover operation in April of 2022, Clay allegedly prepared tax returns for tax years 2019 and 2021 with fictitious deductions. He’s charged with two counts of offering a false instrument for filing and two counts of criminal tax fraud.


Verify your tax return preparer’s credentials


Certain tax return preparers must register annually with the Tax Department and post copies of their current Registration Certificate.


To confirm your tax return preparer’s credentials, see Verify your tax return preparer or facilitator.


Also see the department’s Consumer Bill of Rights Regarding Tax Preparers webpage.


File a complaint


If you feel your tax preparer is not meeting their obligations, you can file a complaint online with the Tax Department’s Office of Professional Responsibility.