The owner of an Astoria-based certified public accountant firm was cooking the books, according to federal prosecutors.
Ahmed Abdelhalim was sentenced in Brooklyn federal court to 14 months in prison for preparing and presenting false tax returns in 2015, according to federal prosecutors. Abdelhalim was also ordered to pay nearly $167,000 in restitution to the Internal Revenue Service.
Prosecutors say that Abdelhalim operated Master Tax Consultants Inc., a tax preparation business located at 31-05 33rd St. in Astoria. The federal investigation included the use of an undercover agent posing as a client-taxpayer. The investigation determined that Abdelhalim inflated or made up deductions for gifts to charity on his clients’ tax returns. He also created expenses for his clients that they did not incur.
In addition to his Astoria tax-prep business, Abdelhalim was an associate professor at LaGuardia Community College, where he taught accounting and income tax practices.
“The defendant was a certified public accountant and professor of accounting and income tax at LaGuardia Community College,” the U.S. Department of Justice said in court documents. “In other words, the defendant clearly understood the harm he was causing the United States tax system and his community. The defendant was not hapless or desperate for income to provide for his family. Rather, he acted out of pure greed to grow his business.”
Abdelhalim pleaded guilty in October to one count of making false tax returns for clients, and on Thursday, March 10, a LaGuardia Community College spokeswoman said he has been relieved of his teaching duties, effective immediately, and the college is moving to terminate his employment.
In its sentencing memorandum, the DOJ said Abdelhalim’s crime is serious, and that he submitted fraudulent returns over a period of at least five years.
“The defendant used his professional training and expertise to defraud the United States government. He did so without any regard to the serious difficulties the fraud might cause his client-taxpayers in the future,” prosecutors said. “Aiding others in intentionally failing to pay their fair share of taxes is a serious crime that affects each member of society as a loss of funds for essential shared government services slowly erodes the fabric of our communities.”