Catch Cheating Tax Preparers

Used Clients’ Info To Perpetrate Fraud

State Commissioner of Taxation and Finance Thomas H. Mattox announced that multiple investigations into the filing of false state and federal income tax returns has resulted in the arrest and prosecution of several tax preparers operating in New York City and Long Island.

Investigations by the state Department of Taxation and Finance, in conjunction with local law enforcebucks ment agencies, allege that these preparers cheated the state and the Internal Revenue Service out of millions of dollars in tax refunds.

One of the individuals convicted has agreed to pay the second highest penalty ever imposed by the Tax Department on a professional tax preparer-$ 500,000.

“We must take every possible step to protect unsuspecting taxpayers from tax preparers who would endanger their financial well-being,” said Gov. Andrew Cuomo. “I commend the state Tax Department and local and federal law enforcement officials for their ongoing work to investigate and prosecute these individuals.”

“These preparers-the few among the many-appear to have engaged in various forms of criminal behavior in order to obtain fraudulent refunds and reduce the amount of income taxes that their clients had to pay,” added Mattox. “[This] announcement sends a strong message that tax return preparers who willfully break the law will face severe penalties.”

The Tax Department was joined in its investigations by the IRS and the offices of United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York Preet Bharara, New York State Department of Corrections Commissioner Brian Fischer, Bronx County District Attorney Robert Johnson, Queens County District Attorney Richard A. Brown, Nassau County District Attorney Kathleen Rice, and Suffolk County District Attorney Thomas J. Spota.

Those charged include:

– A New York City tax return preparer who pled guilty to filing 100 fraudulent tax returns-many of them with fictitious dependent information. He agreed to pay restitution of $608,722, including $108,722 in tax refunds and $500,000 in penalties -the second highest penalty ever imposed on a tax preparer in the state.

His name is being withheld due to the ongoing investigation.

– Albert Adams of Baldwin, owner of the Adams Tax Service on Queens Boulevard in Forest Hills; also, Walter A. Cordero, Garden City, a partner of Albert Adams and owner of a related business, A&C Income Tax., Inc.. Adams pled guilty to offering a false instrument for filing in the first degree for filing false income tax returns and has agreed to pay restitution to New York in the amount of $150,000. Cordero pled guilty to offering a false instrument for filing in the second degree and agreed to pay $100,000 in restitution.

Anyone who suspects that a tax preparer is engaging in unethical or illegal practices can report it to the state Department of Taxation and Finance by calling 1-518-457-0578. money, but stop yelling!”‘ Kurada said.

Osvaldo Quiroz-Lopez, 33, was charged with assault and child endangerment. His lawyer did not immediately return a call for comment.

Asked by a WNBC-TV reporter why he no longer likes the character he sees on “Sesame Street,” little Samay said: “Because Cookie Monster give me boo-boo.”

In the wake of the latest arrest, the bustling “Crossroads of the World” was filled Tuesday with performers, including multiple versions of Mickey and Minnie Mouse, Hello Kitty, a Transformer robot, Lady Liberty, Super Mario and Elmo.

Many of them are immigrants trying to eke out a living in what appear to be knockoff costumes.

As street performers protected by the First Amendment, they are free to roam Times Square and work for tips that average between $2 and $5 a photo as long as they don’t block traffic, sell merchandise or demand payment, police say. That’s a ticketable offense that can cost about $60.

“I don’t think they should charge, but if they’re unemployed or homeless, and this is the only way they can make money, it’s OK,” said Lauren Larcara of Oakland, New Jersey, who posed with a torch-carrying Statue of Liberty.

Laura Vanegas, a 45-year-old native of Ecuador, changes into her Liberty robes and applies copper-green face paint behind the Times Square military recruiting station. She said she picks up $30 to $50 on her eighthour shift.

Steve Crass, dressed as a robot in fluorescent red plastic panels, said he has made as much as $280 during his six-hour stint in front of Toys R Us. He acknowledged: “Some of the characters are a little too aggressive.”

Police spokesman Paul Browne said in an email that the department has had “occasional issues with the ‘faux paws’ in Times Square, but they’re nominal.”

The case against the Super Mario charged with groping is still pending. The Elmo accused of an anti-Semitic rant pleaded guilty in September to disorderly conduct and was sentenced to two days of community service.

City Council Speaker Christine Quinn called the Cookie Monster case “just horrible” and said lawmakers have been looking into how to regulate the characters. But she noted the issue is, well, fuzzy.

“It’s very challenging legally because dressing up in a costume and walking around Times Square is, we believe, a First Amendment-protected activity,” said Quinn, a candidate to be New York’s next mayor.

Similar cases of misbehavior by costumed performers have been reported in Hollywood.

Disney did not respond to a request for comment, while the Sesame Workshop, the organization behind “Sesame Street,” said it has not authorized such uses of any its characters in any city and is looking into what actions it can take.

Anthony Elia, a New York lawyer in the intellectual-property field, said the entertainment groups probably have a case for trademark infringement, but “the challenge probably would be getting a bunch of self-employed entrepreneurial individuals to stop.”

It’s not the easiest way to make a