A 46-year-old Naples tax preparer averted a federal trial by pleading guilty Monday to knowingly and willfully helping his clients prepare bogus tax statements to boost their refunds.
Ronald Facile, who operates Ron’s Tax Accounting and Financial Services Inc. at 5251 Golden Gate Parkway, was to head to trial Tuesday, but opted to plead.
He pleaded to five counts of knowingly and willfully aiding and assisting clients in the preparation and filing of materially false federal income tax returns. The plea represents five taxpayers and St. Facile faces up to three years in a federal prison on each count.
A 42-count indictment handed up in March 2008 had charged him with filing false returns on behalf of 17 different taxpayers during tax years 2001 through 2005.
According to the indictment and plea agreement, St. Facile prepared returns and amended returns that claimed false items that included medical expenses, employee business expenses, mileage, charitable contributions, and education credits.
It shows that one taxpayer had received refunds of $250 to $300 in the past, but St. Facile requested refunds of $2,565, $2,614, and $2,539. The government determined that taxpayer was not entitled to any refund during those years.
St. Facile, who said he'd worked for the IRS for a decade and knew his subject well, told another client, a nurse, that H&R Block hadn't given her all the refunds she was entitled to. He obtained more than $1,000 in refunds for her during three years of amended returns, but the IRS found she wasn't entitled to any. He'd also tallied mileage on her vehicle as more than 162,000, the agreement says, when the odometer showed 127,177 miles.
The plea agreement says a lenient sentence would be recommended by the prosecution and the terms would be concurrent, not consecutive. The 24-page plea agreement shows St. Facile won't face a $100,000 fine on each count, but says the plea is a recommendation and could be rejected by U.S. District Judge John E. Steele.
It also says St. Facile has agreed to cooperate against others and if the government agrees his cooperation warrants it, he could benefit from a "substantial assistance agreement" that could end in a lower sentence.
This case was investigated by the IRS's Criminal Investigation unit. It's being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Robert Barclift and St. Facile is represented by defense attorney Joaquin Perez of Miami.