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IRS gets its man Neal Putnam | Sat, Jun 01 2013 12:00 PM

A former Chula Vista tax preparer was sentenced May 22 to 15 years in federal prison for a case in which the preparer used 292 stolen identities to get illegal tax refunds in the amount of $515,257.

Neil A. Thomsen, 65, was ordered to pay back $453,712 as the Internal Revenue Service was able to obtain $61,545 from his funds, according to court records.

U.S. District Court Judge Roger Benitez also ordered Thomsen to pay $3,200 in federal penalty assessments and he will get credit for spending almost three years in jail since he was arrested in June 2010.

Thomsen was convicted by a jury in December 2011 of 32 counts of fraud involving filing false claims for tax refunds, mail fraud, passport card fraud and aggravated identity theft.

Thomsen fired his trial attorney and represented himself at sentencing.

Thomsen used different identities to lease office space and used a number of addresses in Chula Vista. He purchased computers, a car, a cell phone and other equipment under aliases, and deposited tax refunds into his own bank accounts.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Joseph Orabona urged the judge to sentence Thomsen to 34 years in prison plus restitution.

He said Thomsen posed an economic danger to the community and had shown no remorse.

Thomsen urged the judge to sentence him to 45 months and restitution of $41,505.

Orabona argued that Thomsen used 292 stolen identities in a two-year crime spree. He electronically filed false tax returns using identities of former clients, clients of his former employers and former co-workers, said Orabona.

“This is astronomical — 292 people were victimized,” said Orabona. “Mr. Thomsen thought he could outsmart the IRS at every turn, but he got caught.”

Thomsen used three other men in other states to defraud the IRS with the same scheme, but the trio all pleaded guilty and they have been ordered to pay some of the restitution.

Thomsen also worked with a legitimate tax preparation firm in Chula Vista, but in February 2009 the company discovered someone had filed duplicate tax returns from customers and the IRS later traced it back to Thomsen.

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