David Menzies made a living preparing tax returns. On the side, he also bought and sold information about phony dependents.
Menzies, a 51-year old tax preparer from Floral Park, served hundreds of clients in Western New York and, over a five-year period, filed fraudulent tax returns that claimed false dependents and resulted in refunds his clients were not entitled to.
A federal judge sentenced Menzies to two years in prison Wednesday and rejected the suggestion that he was a "Robin Hood" character who stole from the rich and gave to the poor. He also ordered Menzies to pay $280,930 in restitution to the IRS.
"This is serious stuff," said U.S. District Judge Lawrence J. Vilardo. "This type of fraud affects taxpayers who pay their taxes."
As part of his guilty plea to fraud, Menzies admitted buying personal information about minors from their parents, and then claiming them as dependents on other people's returns.
In court papers, Assistant U.S. Attorney Marie P. Grisanti and Tax Division Attorney Jason M. Scheff said Menzies charged his clients $250 for the phony dependents. He also admitted failing to timely file his own personal tax returns for seven consecutive years.
"It's not something I'm proud of," Menzies told Vilardo, "and it's not something I'll do again."
Menzie's sentence is the result of an investigation by the Internal Revenue Service's Criminal Investigations Division.