Nick Lotito & Seth Kirschenbaum

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Suspects won't face federal charges for tax fraud

Recently, a rash of alleged break-ins at several tax preparation and accounting services offices in the region has led to criminal charges. After video surveillance of the break-ins was released to the public, arrests were made. However, Georgia police have released very little information about the suspects, since the investigation is ongoing. These people will now face charges for submitting false tax documents to the state.

The break-ins allegedly took place in December 2012. It wasn't long before police suspected that the incidents were connected and opened a large scale investigation. According to investigators, during these break-ins, computers and data files were apparently stolen. These computer files apparently contained social security numbers and other private tax information.

Police claim that after this information was stolen, it was used to file fraudulent tax returns at both the state and federal level. Investigators say that at least 600 local Georgia residents had their tax returns denied because the suspects filed first. The police allege that the suspects filed fraudulent returns worth $3 million.

In addition to arresting and charging these individuals, Georgia prosecutors have also seized property from the suspects in order to try and repay some of the victims. According to reports, the police found $140,000 in cash during one search and seized $67,000 from a bank account. The prosecutors have announced plans to seize an additional $610,000 in assets from the suspects in the coming days and weeks.

Still, in an interesting twist, federal officials have declined to get involved despite Georgia authorities alleging that the fraud also involved federal tax returns.

Despite the allegations, the complex investigation and apparent trail of evidence will need to face the scrutiny of a jury before treating the allegations as facts. In cases like this, the help of an experienced criminal defense attorney can be vital to challenging the police and media's interpretation of events and asking questions of the alleged evidence. With the potentially serious consequences that can follow a conviction, especially at the federal level, those facing the possibility of criminal tax violations may welcome a staunch advocate to help protect their rights.

Source: WSB-TV, "WSB-TV Channel 2 Action News viewers help bust tax theft ring," Aug. 27, 2013

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Nick Lotito & Seth Kirschenbaum

Former Federal Prosecutors

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