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Ewa Beach couple pleads guilty to tax fraud

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A Hawaii couple has pleaded guilty to conspiring to defraud the United States by obtaining a fraudulent tax refund and then thwarting IRS efforts to recoup it.

According to court documents, Michael and Brigida Chock of Ewa Beach conspired with a third individual to prepare a false 2014 amended individual income tax return (Form 1040X) and a false miscellaneous income form (Form 1099-MISC) purportedly issued by a mortgage lender to Michael Chock. The tax return falsely reported an inflated tax withholding amount based on the fraudulent Form 1099-MISC, resulting in a refund of $225,327.  The defendants knowingly filed these false forms with the IRS in March 2016.

The Chocks took several steps to obstruct IRS efforts to recover the fraudulently obtained refund, including depositing the refund check into a bank account in the name of a trust they created to conceal the refund and by paying the coconspirator $73,500 for assistance in obtaining and concealing the refund. They also falsely claimed to the IRS that they had prepared the false tax return themselves. 

Each faces a maximum penalty of five years in prison, a period of supervised release, restitution and monetary penalties. A federal district court judge will determine any sentence after considering the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.

Acting Deputy Assistant Attorney General Stuart M. Goldberg of the Justice Department’s Tax Division and U.S. Attorney Clare E. Connors for the District of Hawaii made the announcement.

IRS-Criminal Investigation, the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA), and the FBI are investigating the case.

Trial Attorneys Sarah Kiewlicz and Meredith Havekost of the Justice Department’s Tax Division and Assistant U.S. Attorney Gregg Paris Yates of the District of Hawaii are prosecuting the case.

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