SANTA ANA, California – A certified public accountant who worked at a tax preparation firm in Irvine has pleaded guilty to federal charges resulting from her obstruction of a federal investigation into millions of dollars in tax refunds claimed in tax returns that were prepared by her firm.
Antonia Rios, 52, of Irvine, who was a partner at Quick Rios & Associates, pleaded guilty late yesterday afternoon to one count of attempting to interfere with the administration of the internal revenue laws.
During yesterday's hearing, Rios admitted that Quick Rios had prepared federal tax returns for approximately 200 clients – including a number of Fortune 500 companies – that cumulatively sought more than $100 million in refunds based on the Telephone Excise Tax Refund – the so-called TETR – which was available to compensate individuals and businesses that paid excess telephone excise taxes from 2003 to 2006.
Rios admitted that she submitted to the Internal Revenue Service altered documents related to TETR to support refunds claimed in the tax returns Quick Rios had prepared for its clients. Rios additionally admitted that, during an April 2011 meeting with IRS auditors, she had presented to IRS personnel a fake email she had fabricated in an attempt to show “proof” that Quick Rios was properly calculating the TETR credit. When the IRS questioned Rios and her business partner about the fake email, Rios and her business partner falsely blamed others at Quick Rios for fabricating the email, instead of admitting that she had done it.
Rios admitted that under Quick Rios' fee arrangements with its clients, she and her partner stood to make millions of dollars in fees if the IRS ultimately paid out the TETR-based tax refunds based on returns the firm prepared.
By pleading guilty, Rios admitted that she attempted to obstruct the IRS investigation into the tax returns prepared by Quick Rios. Rios was not charged with filing false tax returns, although the IRS did negotiate settlements with many of the firm's clients.
As a result of her guilty plea, Rios faces a statutory maximum sentence of three years in federal prison when she is sentenced by United States District Judge Andrew J. Guilford on June 25, 2018.
The case was investigated by IRS Criminal Investigation.
This matter is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Charles E. Pell of the Santa Ana Branch Office.
Component(s): USAO – California, Central
Contact: Thom Mrozek Spokesperson/Public Affairs Officer United States Attorney's Office Central District of California (Los Angeles) 213-894-6947
Press Release Number: 17-185 Updated October 18, 2017
Central District of California DOJ / 17-185 / October 18,