California Man Pleads Guilty to Major IRS Fraud: Nearly $900,000 in Unlawful Tax Refunds

California Man Pleads Guilty to Major IRS Fraud: Nearly $900,000 in Unlawful Tax Refunds

Richard Jason Mountford, a resident of Monterey County, California, confessed to a substantial tax fraud, cheating the IRS out of nearly $900,000. His guilty plea, recorded in a federal court, acknowledges his role in a sophisticated tax scheme from 2016 to 2020.

Court documents reveal that Mountford, alongside unnamed accomplices, submitted fraudulent income tax returns. These documents falsely claimed employment and wages from a non-existent company, wrongly reported federal tax withholdings, and illicitly sought refunds.

Further Deceptions: Alimony Claims

The scheme was exacerbated by false alimony claims on most returns, inflating the refund amounts. As a result, the IRS was duped into issuing refunds totaling $873,723.53.

Personal Gains from the Fraudulent Scheme

Mountford personally benefited by depositing $757,075.53 into his accounts. His extravagant purchases included cars worth approximately $360,000. An accomplice also received significant amounts, including around $170,000 in cash and gold bars.

Legal Proceedings and Charges

Attorney General Phillip A. Talbert announced this key legal progression in the case against Mountford. The charges, led by the U.S. Department of Justice and the Tax Division, included:

  1. Conspiracy to File False Claims (18 U.S.C. § 286): This charge arises directly from Mountford’s participation in submitting fraudulent tax returns. Under this statute, it is a federal offense to conspire to defraud the United States government by filing false claims for refunds. The conspiracy charge implies that Mountford and his co-conspirators agreed to commit this crime together, with each playing a role in the execution of the fraudulent scheme. The law under 18 U.S.C. § 286 makes it illegal to engage in any agreement to submit false claims, emphasizing the seriousness of Mountford’s actions.
  2. Making False Statements on Tax Returns: This charge is concerned with Mountford’s deceitful tactics to inflate refund amounts through false alimony claims. By reporting false information on tax returns, particularly about alimony payments, Mountford significantly increased the refund amounts he and his co-conspirators claimed. This act of making false statements on tax returns is a violation of the U.S. tax laws. Such acts not only mislead the IRS but also unjustly enrich the fraudsters at the expense of the government and, ultimately, the taxpayers.

RS Criminal Investigation actively and thoroughly probed the case. Trial Attorneys John C. Gerardi and Charles A. O’Reilly of the Tax Division, along with Assistant U.S. Attorney Dhruv M. Sharma, led the prosecution.

Upcoming Sentencing and Potential Restitution

U.S. District Judge Troy L. Nunley will sentence Mountford on April 11, 2024. Mountford faces a possible maximum sentence of 10 years in prison. The court might also order him to pay restitution of $873,723, the amount he fraudulently obtained from the government.

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