Income tax return preparer Karla Montano, who owns Trebols Income Tax preparation service in Santa Ana, has agreed to plead guilty to five counts of filing false income tax returns, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) announced today. The IRS estimates the tax loss incurred by Montano’s fraudulent returns at more than $700,000.
“In a plea agreement filed on Wednesday, Karla Montano, who also goes by Karla Cervantes Montano and Karla Esmeralda Montano, 31, agreed to plead guilty to five counts of aiding and assisting in the preparation of a false income tax return,” states an Aug. 14 news release from the IRS Criminal Investigation field office in Los Angeles. “Montano is expected to make her initial appearance in United States District Court on Monday, August 19, 2019.”
Between 2014 and 2016, the IRS says, Montano would prepare two sets of returns for some of her customers. The copy given to her customers was legit, but on the return she filed with the IRS she would “fraudulently claim deductions (like unreimbursed employee business expenses and charitable contributions), credits (like education credits and child tax credits), and exemptions (like dependents), that Montano knew her taxpayer-clients never approved of or qualified for,” according to the IRS news release.
The IRS says Montano was able to cash in on the fraudulent returns through the use of the payment management service Refund Advantage. “Specifically, Montano would direct the IRS to electronically deposit her taxpayer-clients’ inflated refunds into Refund Advantage bank accounts, and Montano would subsequently direct the transfer of payments from those accounts into her own personal bank accounts,” states the IRS news release. “The five counts to which Montano agreed to plead guilty allege fraudulent unreimbursed business expense deductions ranging from $38,260 to $47,769.”
Once she pleads guilty, Montano faces a maximum of 15 years in prison, and could also be ordered to pay nearly $440,000 in restitution.
Anthony Pignataro has been a journalist since 1996. He spent a dozen years as Editor of MauiTime, the last alt weekly in Hawaii. He also wrote three trashy novels about Maui, which were published by Event Horizon Press. But he got his start at OC Weekly, and returned to the paper in 2019 as a Staff Writer.