Livingston, N.J.: Preparer Todd P. Halpern, 48, has pleaded guilty to filing false claims and wire fraud, admitting filing claims with the IRS using a dead preparer’s ID and preparing false documents for numerous fraudulent loans. According to documents filed in this case and statements in court, in late 2008 Halpern purchased A & V Financial, a tax prep business in Guttenberg, N.J., from the wife of the prior owner, listed as “V.R.,” who had died in March of that year. Halpern received the company’s computers and all of its client records. As part of the agreement to purchase A & V, Halpern was to obtain a new EFIN in his own name, but instead continued to file returns using the previous owner’s EFIN because Halpern’s criminal record prevented him from obtaining an EFIN.
From 2009 through 2010, Halpern prepared and caused to be filed 657 fraudulent federal income tax returns with the IRS using V.R.’s EFIN. Halpern prepared and filed some of these fraudulent returns without the knowledge and authorization of the taxpayers identified on the returns, and some of these returns contained fraudulent income and deduction amounts that generated fraudulent refunds directly deposited into Halpern’s bank account.
On or about June 24, 2009, in one case, Halpern prepared and filed a fraudulent 2008 1040 in the name of “B.G.,” which fraudulently claimed a refund of $13,183. The 2008 1040 prepared by Halpern contained false income and deduction entries for B.G. because the latter had no income for that tax year and did not file an income tax return. The $13,183 tax refund was directly deposited into Halpern’s bank account. Halpern received a total of $373,938 in fraudulent refunds, using the funds to support his lifestyle, including purchases at Prada, Chanel, Saks Fifth Avenue, and Bloomingdales; to buy season tickets to the New York Giants and thousands of dollars in jewelry, gold coins and silver certificates; to make car payments on multiple luxury vehicles; and to buy car parts for his classic 1957 Chevy Bel Air.
From January of 2008 through May of last year, Halpern prepared false documents for numerous fraudulent loans from financial institutions. He prepared returns, W-2s and bank statements showing inflated income and asset balances to be used to support loan applications for borrowers, including him, to acquire mortgage loans, primarily involving residential properties in New Jersey, as well as other personal and business loans. Halpern and others caused the fraudulent documents to be submitted to mortgage lenders, other financial institutions, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, and the Federal Housing Administration.
In November of 2009, Halpern served as the buyer for the short sale of a Bloomfield, N.J., property from seller “B.S.” for a purchase price of some $185,000. In support of Halpern’s purchase of this property, an FHA-insured mortgage loan for Halpern of $181,649 was obtained from a New Jersey-based mortgage company. Halpern and others submitted numerous fraudulent documents to the FHA and to the mortgage company, including false bank statements, pay stubs and 2008 federal income tax returns in Halpern’s and his wife’s names. As in his tax fraud scheme, the false tax returns that Halpern prepared reflected V.R.’s identification number in an effort to conceal that Halpern had personally prepared the returns.
At the plea hearing, the court also entered a consent judgment and order of forfeiture for $373,938 and for the 1957 Bel Air, which constitutes the proceeds that Halpern obtained as a result of his frauds. The wire fraud count to which Halpern pleaded guilty is punishable by a maximum potential penalty of 30 years in prison and a fine of up to $1 million, or twice the gross amount of pecuniary gain or loss resulting from his offense. The tax fraud count carries a maximum penalty of five years in prison and a maximum fine of $250,000. Sentencing is scheduled for September 10.