NJ Tax Preparer Leon Haynes
The announcement was made by U.S. Attorney Philip R. Sellinger and Acting Deputy Assistant Attorney General Stuart M. Goldberg, bringing attention to the troubling specifics of Leon Haynes’ deceitful actions.
The gravity of the scam has raised significant concern, given that it occurred during a time when the nation was grappling with the spread of the virus and its profound economic impact. Leon Haynes allegedly took advantage of the situation to enrich himself, submitting over 1,000 false applications for funds meant to help struggling businesses during the pandemic. His abuse of his position as a tax preparer allowed him to steal millions of dollars.
The arrest of Leon Haynes is the result of a thorough investigation conducted by the Hudson County Prosecutor’s Office Special Victims Unit and the United States Marshal Service New York/New Jersey Regional Fugitive Task Force. In addition to the tax-related charges, Leon Haynes faces other serious allegations, including Aggravated Sexual Assault and Endangering the Welfare of a Child.
Tammy Tomlins, the head Special Agent in Charge of the Newark Field Office, highlighted the dedication of IRS Criminal Investigation and its collaborators in law enforcement to ensure that those who took advantage of the pandemic for personal benefits are held responsible. The arrest serves as a testament to their dedication to rooting out pandemic-related fraud and bringing to justice those seeking to profit from the public health emergency.
The fraudulent scheme orchestrated by Leon Haynes targeted the Employee Retention Tax Credit (ERC) and Paid Sick and Family Leave Credit, which were established by Congress to support businesses affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Over several months, between November 2020 and May 2023, Leon Haynes submitted a staggering 1,387 false forms to the IRS on behalf of himself and his clients. He grossly exaggerated the number of employees and wages paid to fraudulently claim COVID-19-related tax credits, amounting to a whopping $124.8 million in tax refunds sought by Leon Haynes for his companies and clients.
What Could Leon Haynes Face if Convicted?
If convicted, Leon Haynes could face a maximum penalty of three years in prison and a $250,000 fine for each count of aiding and assisting in the preparation of false returns. The mail fraud charge carries a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine or twice the gross gain to the defendant or gross loss to the victim, whichever is greater.
The government has acknowledged the collective efforts of the IRS – Criminal Investigation, Social Security Administration – Office of the Inspector General, and U.S. Postal Service in bringing Leon Haynes to justice.
As the investigation continues, the U.S. Attorney’s Office remains committed to pursuing all leads and ensuring that anyone seeking to exploit pandemic-related assistance programs for personal gain faces justice. The charges against Leon Haynes send a strong message to potential fraudsters that law enforcement will relentlessly pursue and prosecute those involved in criminal schemes.