Nashville, Tenn. – December 5, 2011 – Elmer Virula, 54, formerly of Nashville, Tennessee, was sentenced today to 24 months in prison, followed by one year of supervised release, for preparing and submitting fraudulent tax returns to the IRS, announced Jerry E. Martin, United States Attorney and Christopher A. Henry, Special Agent in Charge, IRS Criminal Investigation-Nashville Field Office. In addition, Virula was ordered to repay the IRS $167,535.00 for false claims, credits, and deductions he fraudulently obtained and he must also cease and desist from representing himself as a Certified Public Accountant and is not allowed to prepare tax returns for others.

Virula, who now lives in Hawaiian Gardens, California, was indicted on April 8, 2010, and charged with 16 counts of aiding and assisting in the preparation of false income tax returns. According to the indictment, Virula primarily catered to Nashville’s Hispanic community, preparing fraudulent federal income tax returns for others to be filed with the IRS for calendar years 2003 through 2006. The returns claimed numerous false deductions and various credits for fuel, education, and telephone excise tax credits for which the clients were not entitled.

Virula, owned and operated three tax preparation businesses in the middle Tennessee area and pleaded guilty to one count on March 28, 2011.

Those that attempt to defraud the IRS and prey upon the immigrant community should be aware that the federal government takes these offenses very seriously and will prosecute them to the fullest extent of the law,” said Jerry E. Martin, United States Attorney.

As we approach the filing season, taxpayers are reminded to choose a return preparer carefully. Individuals should review their return thoroughly and make sure they understand every item on them as they are ultimately responsible for everything claimed on the return,” stated Christopher A. Henry, Special Agent in Charge, IRS Criminal Investigation-Nashville Field Office.

During the sentencing hearing, numerous witnesses testified that Virula represented himself to the immigrant, particularly Hispanic, community as a minister and CPA, even though he had no accounting license or college degree. Additionally, Virula trained his employees to enter tax credits on clients’ tax returns even when they were not entitled to claim them, thus generating larger refunds.