LOS ANGELES – A Florida man accused of filing false and fraudulent tax returns with the Internal Revenue Service claiming nearly $470,000 in fictitious tax refunds and then attempting to file false liens and encumbrances in retaliation against IRS employees for not paying his tax refund claims has been found guilty by a federal jury in Los Angeles.
Taquan Gullett, who also goes by Maalik Rashe El, 38, of Jacksonville, Florida, was convicted this afternoon in United States District Court. The jury deliberated for two hours before finding Gullett guilty of two counts of making false claims against the United States government and two counts of retaliation against a federal employee or official by attempting to file a false lien or encumbrance.
“Unsatisfied with fraudulently submitting a false tax refund claim for 2009, this defendant doubled down by filing a second fraudulent return for 2010 and by retaliating against the IRS employees who properly rejected his false returns,” said United States Attorney Eileen M. Decker. “As today's jury verdicts reinforce, everyone has an obligation to report their income accurately to the IRS. Furthermore, it is unlawful to retaliate against IRS employees who are simply doing their job, and our office will take such actions seriously and prosecute such behavior to the fullest extent of the law.”
The evidence presented at trial showed that in March, 2010, Gullett filed a 2009 income tax return with the IRS. On that return, Gullett, an exercise physiologist who holds a Master's degree in Kinesiology, reported that he earned $52,591 in wages, and falsely represented that he generated $221,306 in interest income from three financial institutions. Gullett further represented that the federal tax withheld from his earnings and interest income totaled $221,687, and that he was therefore due a tax refund of $149,296. Gullett requested that the refund be paid via electronic transfer to his personal checking account.
“The belief that you can make up your own rules and file bogus tax returns to get the government to pay you money to which you are not entitled isn't just wrong, it's criminal,” stated IRS Criminal Investigation's Acting Special Agent in Charge Anthony J. Orlando. “Today's guilty verdict proves that people who file false claims will be held accountable for their deceit. It further demonstrates that the IRS, TIGTA and the U.S. Attorney's Office are duty bound to protect the integrity of the U.S. tax administration system, and to make sure everyone complies with the nation's tax laws.”
Once the Internal Revenue Service determined Gullet's 2009 tax return was frivolous and denied his claim for refund, Gullett retaliated by filing false documents with the California Secretary of State claiming that certain IRS officials and employees were indebted to him. One document was styled as a “commercial lien.” In the purported lien, Gullett falsely asserted that two IRS employees owed him over $20 million for his “lawful 2009 claim refund,” for “hindering, impeding, obstruction and/or delaying” his rights, and for “harassment, coercion defrauding, and/or defamation.”
Not deterred by the IRS notifying him that his 2009 tax return and refund claim was frivolous, Gullett attempted the same scheme again in 2011 by filing a fraudulent 2010 tax return. The 2010 tax return claimed a fraudulent tax refund of $320,336. Ultimately, Gullett's 2010 tax return was also deemed frivolous by the IRS, and a frivolous return penalty was assessed.
“When individuals file fraudulent liens against IRS employees and public officials in retaliation for doing their jobs and in an attempt to intimidate IRS employees, this illegal conduct will not be tolerated. TIGTA and our partners at IRS CI will work to ensure these individuals are prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law”, stated Rod Ammari, Special Agent in Charge, Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration.
Gullett is scheduled to be sentenced by United States District Judge Christine A. Snyder on November 14, 2016. At sentencing, Gullett faces a statutory maximum sentence of 30 years in federal prison and fines totaling $1,000,000.
The case against Gullett was investigated by IRS Criminal Investigation and the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration and prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Julian Andre and Paul Stern.
Central District of California DOJ / 16-181 / August 4, 2016