A federal grand jury in Greenbelt, Maryland, returned an indictment today charging an Upper Marlboro tax return preparer with conspiracy to defraud the United States and aiding and assisting in the preparation of false tax returns, announced Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Richard E. Zuckerman of the Justice Department’s Tax Division and U.S. Attorney for the District of Maryland Robert K. Hur.
According to the indictment, Anita Fortune provided tax preparation services under multiple business names, including Tax Terminatorz Inc. Fortune allegedly prepared and filed returns using co-conspirators’ electronic filing identification numbers and identifiers. In addition, Fortune allegedly provided money and office space in exchange for her co-conspirators’ electronic filing credentials. For the tax years 2012 to 2018, Fortune, along with her two co-conspirators, allegedly added fictitious or inflated itemized deductions and business losses to clients’ returns, which fraudulently reduced their tax liabilities and increased their refunds.
If convicted, Fortune faces a maximum sentence of five years in prison for the conspiracy count and three years for each false return count. Fortune also faces a period of supervised release, restitution, and monetary penalties.
An indictment merely alleges that crimes have been committed. The defendant is presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.
Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Zuckerman and U.S. Attorney Hur commended special agents of IRS-Criminal Investigation, who conducted the investigation, and Trial Attorney Kathryn Sparks of the Tax Division and Assistant U.S. Attorney Leah Grossi, who are prosecuting the case.
Additional information about the Tax Division and its enforcement efforts may be found on the division’s website.
- Unmanned Aircraft Systems: New DOD Programs Can Learn from Past Efforts to Craft Better and Less Risky Acquisition StrategiesBy Sam NewsAugust 25, 2021Through 2011, the Department of Defense (DOD) plans to spend $20 billion to significantly increase its inventory of unmanned aircraft systems, which are providing new intelligence, surveillance, reconnaissance, and strike capabilities to U.S. combat forces--including those in Iraq and Afghanistan. Despite their success on the battlefield, DOD's unmanned aircraft programs have experienced cost and schedule overruns and performance shortfalls. Given the sizable planned investment in these systems, GAO was asked to review DOD's three largest unmanned aircraft programs in terms of cost. Specifically, GAO assessed the Global Hawk and Predator programs' acquisition strategies and identified lessons from these two programs that can be applied to the Joint Unmanned Combat Air Systems (J-UCAS) program, the next generation of unmanned aircraft.While the Global Hawk and Predator both began as successful demonstration programs, they adopted different acquisition strategies that have led to different outcomes. With substantial overlap in development, testing, and production, the Global Hawk program has experienced serious cost, schedule, and performance problems. As a result, since the approved start of system development, planned quantities of the Global Hawk have decreased 19 percent, and acquisition unit costs have increased 75 percent. In contrast, the Predator program adopted a more structured acquisition strategy that uses an incremental, or evolutionary, approach to development--an approach more consistent with DOD's revised acquisition policy preferences and commercial best practices. While the Predator program has experienced some problems, the program's cost growth and schedule delays have been relatively minor, and testing of prototypes in operational environments has already begun. Since its inception as a joint program in 2003, the J-UCAS program has experienced funding cuts and leadership changes, and the recent Quadrennial Defense Review has directed another restructuring into a Navy program to develop a carrier-based unmanned combat air system. Regardless of these setbacks and the program's future organization, DOD still has the opportunity to learn from the lessons of the Global Hawk and Predator programs. Until DOD develops the knowledge needed to prepare solid and feasible business cases to support the acquisition of J-UCAS and other advanced unmanned aircraft systems, it will continue to risk cost and schedule overruns and delaying fielding capabilities to the warfighter.[Read More…]
- Stabilizing Iraq: Preliminary Observations on Budget and Management Challenges of Iraq’s Security MinistriesBy Sam NewsAugust 25, 2021In November 2005, the President issued the National Strategy for Victory in Iraq. According to the strategy, victory will be achieved when Iraq is peaceful, united, stable, secure, well integrated into the international community, and a full partner in the global war on terror. To help Iraq achieve this, the U.S. is, among other efforts, helping strengthen the capabilities of the Iraq Ministries of Defense and Interior (police forces) so they can assume greater responsibility for the country's security. The United States has provided about $15.4 billion to develop Iraqi security forces and institutions. In this testimony, GAO discusses preliminary observations on (1) U.S. and Iraqi funding to develop and sustain the Iraqi security forces, and (2) key challenges the United States and Iraq face in improving the security ministries' operations and management. This statement is based on prior GAO reports, recent fieldwork in Iraq and Department of Defense, U.S. Treasury and Embassy budget documents. GAO added information to this statement in response to comments from Multinational Security Transition Command-Iraq. We completed the work in accordance with generally accepted government auditing standards.In March 2007, DOD reported that Iraq will increase its 2007 security budget from $5.4 billion to $7.3 billion (a 37-percent increase). DOD states this increase provides evidence of the country's growing self-sufficiency and commitment to security. However, our analysis shows that some of this increase is due to the appreciation of the Iraqi dinar against the dollar. Using a constant exchange rate, Iraq's 2007 security budget grows by 15 percent. Also, Iraq faced problems spending its 2006 security budget. As of November 2006, the Iraq Ministry of Defense had spent only about 1 percent of its capital goods budget for weapons, ammunition, and vehicles. DOD has requested $5.8 billion in additional U.S. funds to help purchase these items for Iraq and provide assistance to its security ministries. The United States and Iraq face personnel and logistical challenges in developing ministries that can sustain Iraq's growing security forces. For example, the ministries have inadequate systems to account for personnel and inexperienced staff with limited budgeting and technology skills. Also, both security ministries have difficulties acquiring, distributing, and maintaining weapons, vehicles, and equipment. The U.S.-led coalition has provided significant resources to develop Iraq's security forces and has 215 military and civilian advisors at the ministries. The United States signed a foreign military sales agreement with Iraq that, according to U.S. officials, allows Iraq to bypass its ineffective procurement systems to purchase equipment directly from the United States. Iraq has deposited $1.9 billion into its account for foreign military sales. However, it is unclear whether this program will help improve the ministries' procurement and contracting capacity.[Read More…]
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- Military Training: DOD’s Report on the Sustainability of Training Ranges Addresses Most of the Congressional Reporting Requirements and Continues to Improve with Each Annual UpdateBy Sam NewsAugust 31, 2021A fundamental principle of military readiness is that the military must train as it intends to fight. Military training ranges provide the primary means to accomplish this goal. The Department of Defense's (DOD) training ranges vary in size from a few acres, for small arms training, to over a million acres for large maneuver exercises and weapons testing, and include broad open ocean areas for offshore training and testing. New advances in military technology, coupled with the complexity of recent military operations in Iraq, Afghanistan, and other locations around the world, generate the need to continually update and maintain DOD's training ranges. Senior DOD and military service officials have reported for some time that they face increasing difficulties in carrying out realistic training at military installations due to outside influences. DOD has defined a number of factors--including competition for broadcast frequencies or airspace, air pollution, noise pollution, endangered species, critical habitats and other protected resources, unexploded ordinance and munitions, urban growth around installations, and civilian access--that it says encroach upon its training ranges and capabilities. Because the military faces obstacles in acquiring new training lands, the preservation and sustainment of its current lands is a priority. Sustainable training range management focuses on practices that allow the military to manage its ranges in a way that ensures their usefulness well into the future. As required by section 366(a) of the Bob Stump National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2003 (as amended), DOD was to submit a comprehensive plan for using existing authorities available to the department to address training constraints caused by limitations on the use of worldwide military lands, marine areas, and airspace to Congress in fiscal year 2004 with annual progress reports beginning in fiscal year 2005 and extending through 2013. As part of the preparation of this plan, the Secretary of Defense was to conduct an assessment of current and future training range requirements and an evaluation of the adequacy of DOD's current range resources to meet those requirements. The plan was also to include: proposals to enhance training range capabilities and address any shortfalls in resources identified pursuant to that assessment and evaluation; goals and milestones for tracking planned actions and measuring progress; projected funding requirements to implement planned actions; and a designation of an office in the Office of the Secretary of Defense and in each of the military departments responsible for overseeing implementation of the plan. Section 366(a)(5) requires that DOD's annual reports describe the department's progress in implementing its comprehensive plan and any actions taken or to be taken to address training constraints caused by limitations on the use of military lands, marine areas, and airspace. This report discusses (1) DOD's progress to date to address the elements of section 366 and (2) improvements incorporated in DOD's 2009 annual sustainable ranges report as well as DOD's plans for its 2010 report submission. In accordance with the mandate, we are submitting this report to you within 90 days after having received DOD's 2009 sustainable ranges report on August 3, 2009.Since 2004, DOD has shown progress in addressing the elements included in section 366 of the Bob Stump National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2003, including the development of an inventory of military training ranges. DOD's 2009 sustainable ranges report and inventory are responsive to the element of 366 that requires DOD to describe the progress made in implementing its sustainable ranges plan and any additional action taken, or to be taken, to address training constraints caused by limitations on the use of military lands, marine areas, and airspace. DOD has also made progress in addressing elements of section 366 that were required as part of DOD's 2004 reporting requirements. For example, DOD has made strides to measure and report the impact that training constraints may have on readiness by developing approaches to incorporate ranges into DOD's readiness reporting system. As part of its comprehensive plan to address training constraints caused by limitations on its ranges, DOD has also developed and included in the 2009 report broad goals for this effort and has begun to include annual estimates of the funding required to meet these goals. However, while DOD has formulated some goals and milestones for tracking planned actions and measuring progress, as it was required to do as part of its 2004 comprehensive plan, it has yet to develop quantifiable goals, which we have previously recommended to better track planned actions and measure progress for implementing planned actions. Without quantifiable goals and time frames associated with achieving milestones, it is difficult to measure and track the extent of progress actually made over time. In addition, while DOD has included some projected funding data, as it was required to do as part of its 2004 comprehensive plan, DOD has not yet included projected funding requirements that will be needed to implement its planned actions, as we also recommended previously, so that decision makers have better information available to make budget decisions. In order to better track its progress to address training constraints caused by limitations on its ranges, we reiterate our prior recommendation that the Secretary of Defense direct the Under Secretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness to provide a more complete plan to Congress that includes (l) quantifiable goals and milestones for tracking planned actions and measuring progress and (2) projected funding requirements to more fully address identified training constraints. DOD has made several improvements to its most recent 2009 report and plans "revolutionary changes" for 2010. For example, DOD has included detailed capability and encroachment data provided and used by the military services when making their capability assessments for each training range surveyed. DOD officials told us that they expect these data to provide improved information for more precise planning in the future. DOD also added a special interest section to highlight key issues affecting range capability and some of the actions taken to mitigate negative impacts, which should provide congressional decision makers and other users with a better understanding of the approaches being used to improve the capabilities of DOD's ranges. Moreover, DOD has already begun to develop its 2010 report, which DOD officials told us they expect to issue in early 2010. DOD officials have stated that they intend to introduce "revolutionary changes" in that upcoming report, including revamping their goals and increasing the focus on specific encroachment issues such as mitigating frequency spectrum competition, managing increased military demand for range space, and meeting military airspace challenges.[Read More…]
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- Humanitarian Assistance: USAID Should Improve Information Collection and Communication to Help Mitigate Implementers’ Banking ChallengesBy Sam NewsAugust 24, 2021What GAO Found Implementing partners (partners) for 7 of 18 Department of State (State) and U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) humanitarian assistance projects that GAO selected noted encountering banking access challenges, such as delays or denials in transferring funds overseas. Of those 7 projects, 1 partner told us that banking access challenges adversely affected its project and 2 additional partners told us that the challenges had the potential for adverse effects. Moreover, the majority of partners (15 out of 18) for the 18 projects noted experiencing banking access challenges on their global portfolio of projects over the previous 5 years. Number of Selected U.S. Government Humanitarian Assistance Projects That Experienced Banking Access Challenges USAID's partners' written reports do not capture potential risks posed by banking access challenges because USAID generally does not require most partners to report in writing any challenges that do not affect implementation. Six of the 7 projects that encountered challenges were USAID-funded. Of those 6 USAID projects, 5 partners told us that these challenges did not rise to the threshold of affecting project implementation that would necessitate reporting, and 1 did not report challenges although its project was adversely affected. Additionally, GAO's review of about 1,300 USAID partner reports found that the few instances where challenges were mentioned lacked sufficient detail for GAO to determine their type, severity, or origin. Without information on banking access challenges that pose potential risks to project implementation, USAID is not aware of the full extent of risks to achieving its objectives. The Department of the Treasury (Treasury) and State have taken various actions to help address banking access challenges encountered by nonprofit organizations (NPO), but USAID's efforts have been limited. Treasury's efforts have focused on engagement between NPOs and U.S. agencies, while State has issued guidance on the topic to its embassies and designated an office to focus on these issues. In contrast, USAID lacks a comparable office, and NPOs stated that it is difficult to find USAID staff to engage with on this topic. Further, GAO found that awareness of specific challenges was generally limited to USAID staff directly overseeing the project. Without communicating these challenges to relevant parties, USAID may not be aware of all risks to agency objectives and may not be able to effectively engage with external entities on efforts to address these challenges. Why GAO Did This Study Since 2012, the United States has provided approximately $36 billion in humanitarian assistance to save lives and alleviate human suffering. Much of this assistance is provided in areas plagued by conflict or other issues that increase the risk of financial crimes. The World Bank and others have reported that humanitarian assistance organizations face challenges in accessing banking services that could affect project implementation. GAO was asked to review the possible effects of decreased banking access for nonprofit organizations on the delivery of U.S. humanitarian assistance. In this report, GAO examines (1) the extent to which State and USAID partners experienced banking access challenges, (2) USAID partners' reporting on such challenges, and (3) actions U.S. agencies have taken to help address such challenges. GAO selected four high-risk countries—Syria, Somalia, Haiti, and Kenya—based on factors such as their inclusion in multiple financial risk-related indices, and selected a non-generalizable sample of 18 projects in those countries. GAO reviewed documentation and interviewed U.S. officials and the 18 partners for the selected projects.[Read More…]
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