Sarasota, Florida -- A Sarasota man pleaded guilty to aiding and assisting in the preparation and presentation of fraudulent tax returns Wednesday.
The State Attorney's Office says in the plea agreement Fernando Torres admitted to operating a tax preparation business in Sarasota that catered mostly to illegal immigrants in and around Sarasota County.
Investigators say during 2011 and 2012, Torres prepared and filed 239 fraudulent tax returns with the IRS, on behalf of his illegal immigrant clients. Torres ensured that his clients obtained refunds by falsely claiming that they had one or more qualified dependents, when in fact, they did not. In order to increase the amount of refunds received by his clients, Torres also fraudulently claimed the Additional Child Tax Credit for them.
In all, the IRS paid out $697,573 in tax refunds to Torres' clients. Investigators say if Torres had completed the returns accurately and legitimately, most of his clients would have owed money to the IRS.
Torres, 41, faces a maximum penalty of six years in federal prison.